According to report by Marc De Foy of the Journal de Montreal, and confirmed by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, it seems that defensive prospect Alexei Yemelin, who has spent the last two seasons in the KHL, will be signing a contract with the Montreal Canadiens within a week or so.
The contract will include an option that, should Yemelin be sent to the minors, he could return to Russia to play in the KHL. With this option in place, it would seem the Habs have no worries about Yemelin’s ability to play in the NHL. The only worry would be that Coach Jacques Martin, who is notorious for unfair treatment of young players, would think otherwise. However, a good talk by Canadiens’ GM Pierre Gauthier might straighten that out.
Speaking of Mr. Gauthier, he’s is in the Slovakia to watch the latter rounds of the World Hockey Championship, where Yemelin and Team Russia are set to take on Team Canada. It will be interesting to see how Yemelin fairs against a North American team, given his physical style that often sees him making trips to the sin bin. Yemelin led the KHL in penalty minutes last season with 117 in 52 games.
Upon his return, the Canadiens’ GM is set to meet with Don Meehan, Yemelin’s agent. Meehan alos represents Habs’ all-star defenseman Andrei Markov. It is widely speculated that the terms of a potential Markov deal will mimck those of Yemelin’s, as to allow Markov to mentor the young Russian blueliner.
This should get interesting. Stay tuned.