With the start of the 2005-2006 season in the Russian Super league, things seemed to be going very well for Alexi Emelin, as the young defensemen was already enjoying a career year just a few short weeks into the new hockey season. But in a bizarre twist of events, Emelin’s team, Lada Togliatti just recently announced that the sponsors who have been financing the team have decided to cut the teams budget by fifty percent. The teams general manager has already been laid off, and a mad scramble has already begun to see where some of the teams top paid players will end up next month, as the team has told it’s players they are free to leave the organization since the players payroll will be cut by a large margin. Some players will likely end up playing in the junior league for Lada-2, as others could jump ship in November when the leagues transfer period occurs.
So the question remains, how will this affect the development of the Canadiens third round pick of 2004 Entry Draft. Several options are still available, and it could turn out to be to his advantage, as the exodus of the teams top players could result in him seeing increased ice time as he has been playing much of this season on the third pairing, even seeing some power play time. But on the other hand, a trip to the junior league would be a step back in his development, after playing in very limited ice time last season as a rookie in the RSL that saw him dress in the championship game, and a full season in the Russian High league during his draft year that saw him rack up an astounding 198 penalty minutes as a seventeen year old.
Hopefully the young blueliner and the rest of his teammates will not be distracted by the off ice drama that the organization now faces, as the team it appears will still play the full season just at a reduced pay and likely reduced level of talent. This comes as a surprise that the sponsors would do this after the season has already started, with the team coming off a strong year that saw them go all the way just falling short of winning the RSL championship.
In other news, Christopher Heino-Lindberg is turning heads with his impressive play early in the season, as the rookie has put up stellar numbers in the Swedish Elite league so far, getting a shutout in his first ever SEL game. In three games the twenty year old goalie boasts a goals against of 1.68 and a save percentage of .934, although he does play for one of the top teams in the league, it still should hopefully give him the confidence to excel this year.