HabsWorld.net -- 

It took until the end of October but the Habs can now say that they have two
regular defencemen under contract for next season.  The club announced on
Thursday that they have inked Alexei Emelin to a four year extension.  The
new deal will carry a cap hit of $4.1 million which more than doubles his
current $2 million salary; there is no word yet if there is a no-trade or
no-move clause included in the contract.

The 27 year old has yet to suit up with the club this season due to a knee
injury (ACL) sustained late last year.  Emelin did note Thursday that his
rehab is progressing well and that he could be back in a couple of weeks. 
His original prognosis had him out until well into December so if true, he
certainly is ahead of schedule.  Emelin practiced with the team for the
first time today prior to their departure for Minnesota; he played alongside
Greg Pateryn and was wearing a non-contact jersey.

The 2012-13 campaign was his second NHL season and Emelin made strides
forward in all categories.  He had three goals and nine assists to go along
with 33 PIMS in 38 games last year.  I know many don’t place much stock in
+/- but he improved that by 20 points as well, from -18 to +2.  Of course,
his biggest contribution to the team is his physical play.  Despite missing
ten games, Emelin finished first on the Habs in hits by a reasonably high margin
and he is one of only a handful of players to have averaged over three hits per
game in the past two years.

Although this is an important contract, GM Marc Bergevin still has
considerable work to do to shape the blueline for next season and beyond. 
Emelin joins Josh Gorges as the only two regular defencemen under contract
(Davis Drewiske is also signed but is a #7 most of the time).  Francis
Bouillon. Raphael Diaz, Andrei Markov, and Douglas Murray are all UFA’s at the
end of the year while P.K. Subban will be an RFA with arbitration rights.

Career Stats

In other news Thursday, the Habs confirmed that George Parros will return to
the lineup in Minnesota on Friday night, presumably filling the spot vacated by
Patrick Holland who was re-assigned to Hamilton following Tuesday’s victory over
Dallas.  Max Pacioretty isn’t expected to play Friday but as it stands, he
may be ready to return when the Habs travel to Denver to take on Colorado on
Saturday night.