Five Best Late Draft Picks By Canadiens Since 2000

MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 03: Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates during the NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre on February 3, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - FEBRUARY 03: Tomas Plekanec #14 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates during the NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre on February 3, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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OTTAWA, ON – APRIL 26: Alexei Emelin #74 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Ottawa Senators by defeating them 2-0 and move to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON – APRIL 26: Alexei Emelin #74 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Ottawa Senators by defeating them 2-0 and move to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Today we have the pleasure of watching Alexander Romanov fly across the ice and pulverizing the opponent with vicious bodychecks.

A decade ago, our version of Romanov was called Alexei Emelin.

The Tolyatti, Russia native was drafted out of the KHL in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft to the surprise of many. There were no doubts that Emelin could have an impact at the NHL level, drawing many comparisons to another hard hitting former defenceman in Darius Kasparaitis, it was a matter of if Emelin would come to North America at all. A narrative we hear often when teams draft Russians.

Turns out it was all hearsay and Emelin joined the Canadiens without much fuss despite what was rumored.

Emelin gave us six seasons of hard hitting hockey. In the 2017 offseason he was claimed via the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights who then flipped him to the Nashville Predators in return for a 3rd round pick in the 2019 draft.

After one season in Nashville, Emelin returned to the KHL where he signed with Omsk Avangard where he just completed his 4th season with the team.

Emelin was injured during Game 1 last year’s Gagarin Cup in the KHL but returned to the game. A day later he would pass out and was rushed to the hospital. Russian media speculated that Emelin suffered from acute liver failure and would require a transplant. The team vehemently denied such reports although Emelin was in critical condition.

Emelin would then return for the 2021-22 season in full health.