31-Year-Old Defenseman – Nashville Predators
Alexei Emelin Contract Information:
Signed a four-year, $16.4 million contract extension with the Canadiens in October of 2013.
Emelin has been averaging 20:15 in ice time over the past four games, skating on the second defensive pairing in place of the injured Roman Josi (upper body).
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Four seasons into his NHL career, Emelin's established a pretty strong baseline of expectations for fantasy owners and Habs fans alike: a defensively oriented game that includes tons of hits and blocked shots, plus a smattering of penalty minutes and not much offense. He's scored exactly three goals in each season, and he complements those with an assist total that can be expected to barely eke its way into double digits. Of course, scoring isn't his job -- his job is to be a big body who clears Carey Price's crease, and he does it well.
Emelin missed the first month and a half while recovering from knee surgery and took some time before he was back to form. In 59 games, Emelin led the Habs with 189 hits. That's his game and his biggest value to a fantasy team, as he's limited offensively. Emelin is the biggest thumper the Habs have on the blue line and will continue that role as a top-four defenseman.
Emelin was Montreal's biggest banger for a second straight season in 2012-13, but an April knee injury leaves his status for the start of the upcoming season in jeopardy. There isn't much flash to Emelin's game. He's a top hitter, so the Canadiens will miss that element on defense. His absence will open up a spot for prospect Jarrod Tinordi.
Emelin signed with the Canadiens prior to the 2011-12 season and came with little expectation. After some early-season healthy scratches, Emelin used his physicality to earn a greater share of playing time as the season wore on, finishing with seven points in 67 games. He was the team's leader in hits and averaged nearly 18 minutes per-game after the All-Star break. He'll be one of the top four defensemen to open the season.
Emelin was drafted by Montreal in 2004, and after two failed attempts to get him to North America, the Canadiens finally got their man. And it might be a good thing it took seven years to get him here, as Emelin has grown physically in that time. He plays an aggressive brand of defense and was largely seen as a stay-at-home body until his final season with the Kazan Ak-Bars of the KHL. Emelin got ample work on their power play and posted a career-high 11 goals (seven on the PP) and 16 assists with a plus-17. He is expected to challenge for a starting spot immediately. Though he signed a two-way contract, he has an out that will let him go back to Russia if he doesn't make the Canadiens roster.