SUN Hockey Pool

Ol' Yeller staying with Flames

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

The Calgary Flames wasted no time locking up one of their key players.

Defensive specialist Stephane Yelle, who would have become an unrestricted free agent July 1, re-signed with the Flames yesterday.

The veteran centre inked a two-year deal worth between $2.8 and $3 million US, giving up a shot at the open market in order to return to Calgary for a fourth season this fall.

"I'm really happy," said Yelle, who spends his off-seasons in Denver but was enjoying a vacation elsewhere yesterday. "It was done before the summer, so that's a relief -- to not have to go through the whole summer with negotiations and wondering where you could end up."

Yelle likely would have had multiple suitors on the free-agent market. The Ottawa product quietly slipped out of town last week but said yesterday there was nowhere else he'd rather play.

"I've really enjoyed my last three years in Calgary," said Yelle, who likes the mix of youth and experience on the roster.

"The organization has high expectations and they have one goal in mind -- to make the playoffs and get a chance to win the big prize, which is the Stanley Cup. For me, to be able to be part of that and playing in a Canadian city ... it's been really enjoyable."

Other Flames due to become UFAs are wingers Mike Leclerc, Shean Donovan and Chris Simon, defencemen Cale Hulse and Bryan Marchment, backup goaltender Brian Boucher and centre/winger Craig MacDonald.


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