HabsWorld.net -- 

With the recent announcement that Alexei
Yemelin has decided to remain in Russia rather than joining the Habs, people are
up in arms about it.  My first reaction is why?  A Russian wanting to
stay home for more money and quite possibly more playing time, this is by no
means surprising and really not that disappointing.

Could Yemelin (or Emelin as some call him) have been an NHL’er down the road? 
Sure, lots of people seem to think he could be a solid bottom pairing
defenceman.  In 2 years from now, guess what, he still could be a solid
bottom pairing defender.  In the offseason of 2011 when his current
contract expires, he’ll be 25, and in recent years we’ve seen lots of older
Europeans make the jump to the NHL.  So not all is lost here people.

Is there reason for disappointment?  Sure, everyone likes it when a
prospect joins the team, it makes for some good discussion and in Yemelin’s
case, instills some hope as a possible improvement to the D-corps in the future. 
Does this change anything in the organization’s plan for the offseason?  I
sure hope not, because if the Habs were counting on a stay-at-home 3rd round
pick to be a key part of the summer movements, we’re in for one heckuva long

There seem to be a couple misconceptions floating around when it comes to
Yemelin.  Under no circumstances could he be given a 1-way contract, he’s
simply too young.  You can give bonuses, but let’s be realistic here. 
I’ve seen lots of people float out suggestions of at least a million dollars to
entice him to come over.  Since the new CBA came into play, it’s extremely
rare to see a 3rd round pick get bonuses (it does happen for a few players), and
never of the 7-figure variety.  Another misconception – nowhere in
an entry-level contract can a stipulation exist that guarantees full-time NHL

In terms of contracts, P.K. Subban, a highly touted 2nd rounder, has a $875,000
cap hit for the next 3 seasons – and there are no bonuses in his contract
whatsoever.  This is also a little rare, as other 2nd round picks of the
Habs (Maxwell and Carle as recent examples) have a lower cap hit even with
bonuses.  So how much is Yemelin really worth?  I can seeing
overpaying a little bit to get him to sign, but an overpayment would be a base
of $600,000 with some bonuses, not the rookie max + 7 figures worth of
incentives.  Even suggesting that Gainey should have offered that is simply

I know some will disagree with this, but I think it’s safe to say that Yemelin
would have needed some AHL seasoning.  Not necessarily several seasons
worth, but more than a handful of games too.  In that case, the bonuses
wouldn’t make any sort of difference and AHL salaries as we all know are much
lower than KHL ones.  If Yemelin was to make the NHL immediately and have
these bonuses, we’d be looking at a #5/6 defenceman with a $2 million cap hit –
Montreal had that last year and we all know the complaints that soon followed

By now, we should all know and appreciate the risks associated with drafting
Russians – sometimes they just don’t want to come over, no matter how much lip
service they say that suggests otherwise.  And really, it’s not like we’re
talking about a 1st rounder refusing to sign – he’s a 3rd rounder here.  A
lot of these players never pan out, Yemelin isn’t the first, and won’t be the
last.  And as I said earlier, 25 year olds can still turn into something so
all is not lost.  The fact that he didn’t sign shouldn’t cost anyone their
job, nor should it really have an effect on Mike Komisarek’s status as a lot of
people think.  It is what it is, a player choosing to stay home for a
couple more years, then re-evaluate his situation.  The waiting game

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