Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters spoke to the media today as the team finished their year-end locker clean out, and mentioned a couple of players that the team had signed recently. Unfortunately Peters didn’t list them by name, but noted a Russian goaltender—likely Artyom Zagidulin, who was announced a few weeks ago—and a defenseman who is old enough to compete for a spot on the team next season. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet tweets that the “mystery defenseman” is likely Alexander Yelesin, who the Flames had been pursuing recently.
Yelesin, 23, played this season for Lokomotiv of the KHL and recorded 10 points in 55 games. He had been previously linked (however tenuously) to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Friedman actually wrote in 2018 that there was an agreement in place to bring him to the NHL. The defenseman’s KHL contract will expire at the end of April, meaning he is free to go wherever he chooses.
Though he’s not a big offensive contributor, Yelesin did average more than 17 minutes of ice time for Yaroslavl this season and increased that even further during their short playoff run. The young defenseman is right handed and could offer another depth option for the Flames who face plenty of tough decisions this summer after their early exit from the playoffs. The team currently has a wealth of defenders available to them, but T.J. Brodie, Travis Hamonic and Michael Stone—all options on the right side—are each heading into the final year of their contracts and will be unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2020.