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We all know what Alexei Emelin can bring to the table.  He’s a punishing
hitter and he has been an effective shot blocker recently as well.  For the
most part though, he hasn’t been able to consistently provide any significant
offensive production although he has set career highs in points in each of his
three seasons.  Will that continue in 2014-15?


It took a while for Emelin’s season to begin as he missed all of the
preseason and the first 19 games of the year while he was recovering from knee
surgery from an injury sustained prior to the 2013 playoffs.  Once he did
return, he spent most of the year playing on his off-side for the first time in
his career.  Despite that, Emelin was part of a mostly effective (albeit a
very slow)
second pairing alongside either Andrei Markov or Josh Gorges while being a
fixture on the second unit penalty kill.  He received a big boost in ice
time for the playoffs (more than three minutes per game higher than his regular
season ATOI) but still was primarily deployed as a second pairing player at both
even strength and when the team was shorthanded.  The end of his year came
a tad premature, however, as he missed the final two games against New York with
an issue that was specifically referred to as a ‘body’ injury. 

Season Stats: 59 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 17 PTS, -1 rating, 59 PIMS, 1
PPG, 0 GWG, 58 shots, 19:15 ATOI

3-Year Averages

(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of
2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year.)

GP: 64
Assists: 11
Points: 15
+/-: -5
PIMS: 45
PPG: 0

2014-15 Role

Emelin may be the player who benefits most from management’s decision to
trade away Josh Gorges.  Not only does this mean that he should be able to
switch back to his natural left side but it also means that he’ll be playing
alongside a strong skater in either P.K. Subban or newly-signed Tom Gilbert. 
One of the problems that the Markov-Emelin pairing dealt with last season was
that both players weren’t exactly fleet of foot and opposing forwards used that
to their advantage.  Having a better skater with Emelin should help
alleviate some of those issues.  That should allow Michel Therrien to use
him with a bit more confidence; a bump in ATOI to 20 minutes shouldn’t be out of
the question.

In the playoffs, Emelin was starting to see a bit more powerplay time,
averaging just over a minute per game with the man advantage.  Depending on
which of the rookie blueliners fills the vacant third pairing spot, there may be
an opportunity for him to still get some PP time.  If Jarred Tinordi gets
that spot, Emelin should be a regular on the second unit.  If it’s Nathan
Beaulieu though, he won’t see any time of significance.  With Gorges and
Douglas Murray gone, it’s likely that Emelin will see a boost in his shorthanded
ice time as well.

Projected Stats

Emelin isn’t going to be a name we’ll see on the scoresheet all that often
but there should be room for him to improve upon his 17-point output from last
season.  20 minutes per night with some special teams time is a reasonable
expectation and given that he will be entering the first year of a new four year
pact signed last season, it’s likely that the Habs are going to give him every
chance to boost his role.

Is that alone enough to justify him as a defenceman worthy of a spot on a
fantasy team?  No, but there are other areas that can make him not only
worthy but a valuable player overall.  Emelin averaged over three hits per
game last season; if he had hit at that rate over a full season, he would have
been inside the top-10 for total hits.  Even though he missed as many games
as he did, he still finished top-50 league-wide.  In terms of blocked shots, Emelin
managed to finish in the NHL’s top-60 despite missing 23 contests.  If he
had played all 82 games at his 2.15 blocks per game rate, he would have
been inside the top-10 in that category as well.

Needless to say, if you’re in a league that has hits and/or blocked shots as
a scoring category, you’re going to want to pick him regardless of whatever
expectation you have for his offensive production.  If you’re in a deep
pool that has both as categories, you may want to take him just past the midway
point of the draft as teams will look to fill those categories quickly once the
better offensive blueliners are off the board.  For those who don’t have
hits/blocks as scoring categories, he obviously becomes less of a palatable
option.  If he is in line for second unit powerplay time though (depending
on the likely Beaulieu-Tinordi battle), he still may have some upside towards
the 25-point range and could be worthy of a late round flyer or early waiver
wire pickup.  

GP: 76
Assists: 17
Points: 22
+/-: +1
PIMS: 64
PPG: 1

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