Montreal Canadiens: Is Alexei Yemelin the Right Man for the Job?

Jason HitelmanCorrespondent IMay 13, 2011

KELOWNA, CANADA - DECEMBER 28:  Alexei Emelin #2 of Team Russia passes the puck against Team Slovakia during their World Junior Hockey Championships game at Prospera Place on December 28, 2005 in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.  Russia defeated Slovakia 6-2. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

I would love to say that I am excited about the prospect of the Montreal Canadiens signing Alexei Yemelin, but to be perfectly honest, I'm just not sure.

For years we've been hearing about how great it would be to get the Russian defenseman to cross the Atlantic Ocean and into a Habs uniform. He, however, was more interested in playing in the KHL than the AHL, which I guess I can understand.

Now the time has come. The Habs are in need of a solid defenseman, a physical force on the back end.

I'm just trying to figure out why Pierre Gauthier thinks Yemelin is the man for the job, seeing how he has never played an NHL game.

I suppose he is a cheaper alternative to Roman Hamrlik, but is he going to be nearly as effective?

I'd have to think that he won't at first, at least not in his rookie season.

Even though he is a bit long in the tooth, Hamrlik was a hero on the Habs' d-corps this past season. He played heroically while his teammates dropped like flies.

Hamrlik is 37 years old. You have to wonder how many years he has left in him; I'm sure that Gauthier weighed that into consideration.

If the Canadiens were ever going to take a chance Yemelin, now is the time.

But how many chances can management take?

Assuming that Yemelin does come over, it would have to mean that Andrei Markov is re-signing with the club.

Now don't get me wrong, I love Markov. I would take the same gamble signing a fragile Markov over James Wisniewski.

A healthy Markov is far superior to a healthy Wisniewski.

That being said, it's a risky move.

It looks like Pierre Gauthier feels lucky. It's an all or nothing approach.

I kind of enjoy that he isn't taking the safe route, but it makes me a little bit uneasy at the same time.