Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Sergei Kostitsyn, Jaroslav Halak, Yannick Weber. For all the press some of the Habs’ bigger names will get at the Olympics, one often overlooked player is Russian defenseman Konstantin Korneev. Even if he was drafted
by Montreal late in the 9th round in 2002, the Moscow native has rounded out into an above average defender.
While not a huge player, measuring 5’11 and weighing about 180 pounds, he is a stable and responsible defender. Also, Korneev has seen his offensive game round out as of late. While playing for CSKA Moscow over the last three years, he has regularly built upon his point totals. Last season he put up 22 points from the blueline, while this year he has 28 points in 54 games. These totals represent quite a change for the Red Army captain, considering that prior to joining his hometown club, his career high was a measly ten points.
Obviously, this improvement has not gone unnoticed. For the past three years, Korneev has been a staple on the national team. He has played in the previous three
World Championships and was a key component in Russia’s gold medal run in 2008. During that tournament, he obtained 1 goal, 5 assists and finished an impressive +11 in 9 games.
In spite of his evident upside, there have been no apparent overtures to lure him to North America. One of the problems is that he currently has two years remaining on his contract, which pays him a handsome 1 million dollars a year. If he were to be enticed to join the Habs, it is likely that he would have to be offered generous compensation and a guaranteed spot on the roster. Having said that, a few million dollars for a Russian Olympian does not sound too bad, does it? Regardless, it will be interesting to follow his performance at these Olympics, especially as the competition picks up.