7 years after he was initially drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 3rd round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Alexei Yemelin (the English spelling we're told) has signed a one year, two way contract with the club.
It seems that the Canadiens are spelling his name Emelin (the French and Russian spelling) publicly so that is likely to be the way it's spelled on his jersey next season.
Much has been said on Eyes on the Prize as well as in the media and blogosphere about the highly touted Emelin. The excitement for him playing with the Habs is palpable. An imposing, physical presence on the back end that Montreal was sorely missing last year has been added, as well as a player with a good transition game and well rounded offensive instincts.
With this signing becoming official, it is increasingly obvious that Habs fans will be waving goodbye to James Wisniewski and Roman Hamrlik, both key contributors to the success of the Canadiens this season. The Habs seem to be moving towards youth on the blueline, which is a welcome decision for most fans, and likely the correct decision in the coming years.
Another good omen that comes with this signing is that Andrei Markov's contract talks must be close to an agreement. Emelin and Markov have the same representation in Don Meehan, and I would find it incredibly unlikely that Emelin would agree to sign if Markov was let go.
While financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, Emelin's contract by necessity is an entry level deal and will likely be around a one million dollar cap hit including bonuses.
Emelin suffered an ankle injury in the bronze medal game of the World Hockey Championships while representing Russia. It's reported to be a minor injury, a 2-3 week healing time, according to Marc Antoine Godin.
Update: According to Bob McKenzie, Emelin will earn $984,300 next year in the NHL, with an out clause where he can return to Russia if he's sent down to the American Hockey League.
I've included the Canadiens official press release after the cut.
MONTREAL - Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced today the signing of defenseman Alexsey Emelin to a one-year, two-way contract (2011-12). As per club policy, financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with Alexsey Emelin. Alexsey is a steady, physical defenseman with strong skating ability. The experience he has acquired in the KHL over the past few years will make for a smooth transition to the NHL," said Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier.
Emelin registered 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists), leading his team defensemen in goals, playing 52 games with the Kazan Ak Bars of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in 2010-11. Seven of his goals were scored on the powerplay. Emelin, 25, recorded 110 shots on goal, while averaging 21:18 seconds of ice time per game. He displayed a +17 plus/minus differential and served 92 penalty minutes.
In three complete seasons with the Kazan Ak Bars, the 6'2'', 223 lbs defenseman totaled 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) with 200 penalty minutes in 149 games, while maintaining a +22 plus/minus differential. Emelin totalled 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 38 career KHL playoff contests.
Emelin, who was part of the Russian team at the 2011 World Championship in Slovakia, was a member of the Russian team that captured silver at the 2010 World Championship in Cologne, Germany and participated in the 2007 World Championship in Moscow. He was on the Russian team that won the silver medal at the 2006 World Junior Championship in Vancouver.
A native of Togliatti, Russia, Emelin was the Canadiens' second pick (third round, 84th overall) at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
I've included Emelin's stats from HockeyDB:
Welcome to Montreal, Alexei.
#74 Alexei Emelin Compilation (Welcome to Montreal) (via corunguneee)
Arpon Basu's take on the signing.