Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced on Thursday that defenceman Alexei Emelin has been signed to a four-year contract extension that will run through the 2017-18 season. The deal is reported to be worth $16.4 million, an average of $4.1 million per season.
Emelin hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury on April 6 against the Boston Bruins. He skated with his teammates for the first time since suffering the injury during Thursday’s practice in Brossard while wearing a no-contact jersey. The defenceman underwent reconstructive knee surgery on May 21 to repair both the aneterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.
“We are very happy to have secured a long term agreement with Alexei,” Bergevin said in a statement. “He is an important part of our group of core players. He shows a very good work ethic and has a good attitude. He can play big minutes against the opponents’ best players, and hard-hitting defencemen of his type are hard to find. We are very confident that he will fully recover from his knee injury and be able to compete at a high level for many years to come.”
Said Emelin, who thinks he might return to the lineup by mid-November: “I am very pleased to be a member of the Montreal Canadiens organization for the coming years. I love Montreal and I am confident that I will soon return to the ice fully recovered from my injury and contribute to the success of our team.”
In 38 games last season with the Canadiens, Emelin posted 3-9-12 totals and and led the team with 110 hits.
After practice Thursday, coach Michel Therrien confirmed that George Parros, sidelined since suffering a concussion in the season opener on Oct. 1, will play Friday night in Minnesota (8 p.m., RDS, TSN Radio 690) and that Carey Price will start in goal.
Max Pacioretty, who has been sidelined since Oct. 15 with a lower-body injury but practised Thursday, is expected to play this weekend. The Canadiens will be in Colorado Saturday to face rookie coach Patrick Roy and the Avalanche (10 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
The two-game road trip will be a father/son event for the Habs. A number of the Habs fathers attended practice Thursday before heading out on the road with their sons. The only injured players who won’t make the road trip are Emelin, Travis Moen and Davis Drewiski.
Parros shaved off his trademark moustache on Thursday for the start of “Movember”. He then sent out this tweet, along with a photo of his clean-shaven face: “Day 1 is always a sad day… Donate in memory of my former facial hair”
Brandon Prust also shaved off his beard and moustache for “Movember”. His girlfriend, Maripier Morin sent out this tweet afterwards: “bye bye beard..hello movember @brandonprust8 !! #willmissyou #stache”
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at Thursday’s practice:
Galchenyuk – Eller – Gallagher
Bournival – Plekanec – Gionta
Bourque – Desharnais – Leblanc
Blunden – White – Pacioretty
Markov – Subban
Gorges – Diaz
Murray – Bouillon
Emelin – Pateryn
(Photo by Dave Sidaway/The Gazette)