Last summer GM Bob Gainey tried to sign Alexei Emelin but the two sides could not come to terms as it was reported in the Russian media that Emelin was not satisfied with the terms of the contract. He then turned around and signed a two year deal with Lada Togliatti after the team tripled his salary upon completion of his rookie season. Bob Gainey reported that Emelinís contract did not have an NHL out clause which meant that he likely would remain in Russia for the full length of the contract.
Flash forward almost a year later and now the situation has changed for Emelin and his team Lada. It has been reported in the Russian media outlet Sport-Express that Lada has run into financial troubles once again which has led to the organization not being able to pay their own players salaries over a large part of the season. In addition Lada has been requested by the league committee to build a new arena for the team or they will be expelled from the RSL.
The team also has to find a way to come up with the funds to pay their players within a certain time frame. If the team can not come up with the funds then all player contracts will be then voided, which would then leave Emelin without a contract for next season. The fact that Emelin could be without a team to play for next year has given speculation that he might attend the Canadiens training camp in the fall. A similar situation happened last year with Moscow Dynamo when they were unable to pay their players the salaries owed and could not come up with the funds in the time frame allotted them, thus making player contracts void. This led to Mikhail Grabovski signing a two year contract with the Canadiens after having his contract with Dynamo voided.
This is not the first time that Lada has had financial difficulties, last year not even half way through the season the team announced that the sponsors who have been financing the team decided to cut the teamís budget by fifty percent. In addition they had to lay off staff and players were told that they would be free to leave the organization. This opened the door for Emelin as many of the top players left the team to sign with other organizations and he was able to see an increase in his ice time and role with the team.
Emelin is currently with Team Russia as they prepare for the World Championships in Moscow later this month. This is the second time that Emelin has been named to the prelim roster but he was not able to earn a spot with the club last year. The Canadiens are well represented among Russiaís defensemen with four drafted players at camp in Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, Konstantin Korneev and Pavel Valenteko, a feather in the cap of the Habs Russian scout Nikolai Vakourov.
Valentenko Hamilton Bound?
Pavel Valentenko was given a vote of confidence for his play this year when he was invited to join some of Russiaís top players as they prepared for the World Championships which are being held in Russia this year. The experience had to be a good one for Valenteko but it ended recently after an unknown injury forced him to go home early. At the Canadiens year end press conference, GM Bob Gainey stated that the team is in talks with Valentenkoís agent and that the talks are going well so we might expect to see him in North America next year. Getting Valentenko in Hamilton would be great for the Habs as they are very thin on left handed defensemen and they need to start developing more prospects on defense as the farm system has been top heavy on the wings and in nets.
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