Mathias Brunet reports over at his Rondelle Libre blog that the Montreal Canadiens are presently in discussions with Kontinental Hockey League stars Alexander Perezhogin and Alexei Emelin.
If indeed the Habs are able to convince the two to come to North America, which appears to be at least Emelin's desire, it would fill two gaping holes in the Montreal lineup next season.
Emelin, by all accounts, is a tough-as-nails defenceman who backs down from nothing, but the question now is whether he has hurt his game by staying in Russia this long. He turned 23 on Saturday, so he's still relatively young, but he's never played a full season on a North American ice surface or with NHL-style refereeing.
Still, he would be welcome addition to a blueline that could potentially see the departure of Mike Komisarek, yet is only expected to welcome Yannick Weber and perhaps P.K. Subban to the fold, hardly players that could replace the physical dimension Komisarek brings (or used to bring in his pre-Lucic version of himself).
Here's a YouTube clip of some of Emelin's highlights, though these aren't very recent:
Brunet's story doesn't make it sound like Habs VP Hockey Operations Julien BriseBois is very sure of what Perezhogin's plans are, but he's become a pretty elite player over in Russia. This year he had 50 points in 55 games for Ufa Salavat Yulayev, who dominated the regular season wth a 44-8-4 record, but got knocked out in the first round of the KHL playoffs (sound like a certain California team we all know?).
Perezhogin's point total was tied for 10th in the league, three points behind Jaromir Jagr and two points better than teammate Alexander Radulov. He's currently playing in Switzerland at the world championships for Russia and has three points in his first three games.
Emelin is not in Switzerland, having been injured after taking a beating from former Lightning giant and third overall draft pick Alexander Svitov, which you can see here:
But another Habs prospect who is in Switzerland to represent Russia is Konstantin Korneev, a ninth-round pick in 2002. Korneev had 22 points in 54 games with CSKA Moscow this season, but as Brunet reports, BriseBois says the Canadiens haven't held any discussions with him about a possible return.
A big reason why Emelin and Perezhogin may want to come back to North America is the way the KHL is handling the current economic crisis by having the players take minor to severe pay cuts next season. The two of them have no contracts right now, so who knows how low their salaries may plummet?
In any case, the timing couldn't be much better for the Canadiens, who will desperately need some talent to fill out the roster this summer.