Daily Hab-it: With Yemelin signed, can Markov be that far behind?
Published Tuesday, May 17, 2011 6:00PM EDT
Finland's Petteri Nokelainen, left, fights for a puck with Alexei Yemelin, right, from Russia during their semifinal Hockey World Championships match in Bratislava, Slovakia, Friday, May 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Right on schedule, the Canadiens announced Tuesday afternoon the signing of Alexsey Emelin – yes, that's how the team spelled his name – to a one-year, two-way contract, thereby validating last week's reports that a contract was essentially done and that Emelin's agent Don Meehan would be meeting with Pierre Gauthier on this day.
(UPDATE 6:01 p.m. Bill Beacon of The Canadian Press reports that agent Don Meehan says his client prefers his name be spelled Alexei Yemelin, and not the way the Canadiens spelled it in their release. Fun times. Corrections have been made to reflect that.)
Yemelin's total compensation in the NHL will be $984,200, which is the maximum allowed base salary under the Collective Bargaining Agreement's entry-level structure. However, the important word to note there is "total," which suggests Yemelin has none of the allowable performance bonuses included in his contract.
That is important news because Yemelin would have been eligible to receive up to $2.85 million in performance bonuses, all of which would have counted against the Canadiens cap figure for this season because the CBA expires next July 1.
The reported out clause to play in the KHL in case Yemelin is demoted to Hamilton is included in the contract. By all accounts Yemelin is ready to play in the NHL now, which makes that clause a moot point because if he's not ready to play at age 25, one has to wonder if he ever will be.
However, the inclusion of that clause should ensure that Jacques Martin will show patience with the newly imported defenceman and give him an opportunity to succeed and adapt to the smaller ice surface and faster North American brand of hockey
But what I'm wondering is how much Meehan and Gauthier were able to talk about Andrei Markov's contract status while ironing out Yemelin's deal?
In my eyes, brining Yemelin over should make re-signing Markov a slam dunk for all the reasons I spelled out last week, though La Presse's Marc-Antoine Godin is reporting those talks will not start before the end of next week.
Still, I have a hard time believing the Canadiens would bring in Yemelin without bringing back Markov to mentor him.
If indeed that happens it would give the Canadiens Markov, Yemelin, P.K. Subban and Jaroslav Spacek under contract on the blue line with another three or four defencemen left to sign. You can surely add Josh Gorges into that mix, and it's possible you could even add Swiss defenceman Rafael Diaz as well, which would then leave anywhere between one and three spots available with Hal Gill, James Wisniewski, Roman Hamrlik and Brent Sopel hitting unrestricted free agency and Yannick Weber and Alexandre Picard heading towards restricted free agency.
It will be very interesting to see how all this unfolds, but the signings of Diaz and now Yemelin adds more meaning to a response Gauthier gave two weeks ago to a question about the wide open nature of his situation on defence where he said he saw this as an opportunity to reshape the blue line as the team saw fit.
He appears to be doing just that.