Canadiens Russian prospects season review

By Sergei Balashov

Alexei Emelin, D
Lada Togliatti (RSL)
Montreal’s 3rd round pick, 84th overall in 2004 entry draft.

Alexei Emelin played a key role in Lada Togliatti’s defense and helped his team, riddled by a severe financial crisis, to make the playoffs. Togliatti dethroned the reigning champion Dynamo but lost to Metallurg Mg. Emelin missed the last two games due to a very questionable suspension after injuring Metallurg’s defenseman Evgeni Varlamov.

Emelin could progress into a very good stay at home type defenseman who can physically suppress the opposition’s forwards. He’s capable of contributing to his team’s offensive effort by making fast and accurate go-ahead passes to start attacks. Emelin positions himself well on power play and has an above average shot. Four of his six goals came on power play. He led his team’s defensemen with 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 43 regular season games. He could work on his 6’1 185-pound frame by adding some bulk which would help him be a more effective hitter. It also wouldn’t hurt to play clean and stay away from the sin bin when it’s not necessary.
Emelin finished the regular season with a +9 rating while the rest of Lada’s defensemen had the average rating of -2.

Emelin was one of the reasons behind Russia’s strong performance at the World Juniors 2006 in Vancouver. He played with confidence and was the cornerstone of the defense that never allowed more than two goals before letting in five in the final game. Alexei Emelin had two multipoint games (he amassed the total of six points in six games). He received some votes but didn’t make it onto the tournament’s all-star team.

Mikhail Grabovsky, C
Dynamo Moscow (RSL)
Montreal’s 5th round pick, 150th overall in the 2004 entry draft.

Mikhail Grabovsky has not slowed the rate of progress after joining Dynamo prior to the start of the season. The young center got less ice time than he had with Neftekhimik but made the most out of it, especially in the second round of the regular season when he got a chance to play with Maxim Sushinski and Alexander Kharitonov. His production considerably improved. Grabovsky managed to score eight goals and six assists in a 13-game span near the end of the regular season. He had the total of 10 goals and 18 assists in 48 regular season games.

Grabovsky, a native of Belarus, constantly makes the national team and has had some success on the international arena. He is famous for scoring four goals in his team’s game against Austria at the 2005 World Championship. He participated in the European Champions Cup with Dynamo making three appearances and scoring four goals and adding up four assists, including a goal and an assist in the final game. Grabovsky has the scoring touch, but lacks in the playmaking department which is crucial for a center. He’s got good speed but he still needs to work on his passing. His shots could be more accurate. Being on a strong team like Dynamo gives him a chance to establish himself as one of the league’s top centers. The question is whether he’ll take advantage of it.

Konstantin Korneev, D
Ak Bars Kazan (RSL)
Montreal’s 9th round pick, 275th overall in 2002 entry draft

Korneev is your typical ninth-round pick who has little chance of even making the farm team. He had a below average season with Ak Bars. Korneev appeared in 30 regular season games periodically losing his spot on the roster to Gennadi Razin. He posted one goal and three assists. His defensive performance still leaves much to be desired. He tends to lose his grip on the opponent and is not effective along the boards. He considerably lacks in size (5’11 176 lbs) which affects his ability to play physical defense. He could potentially develop into another Brian Rafalski type defenseman if he worked on his skating and his passing. His shot is one of his stronger sides, but he rarely gets the chance to demonstrate it.

Korneev’s team just made the Super League finals and won its first game. They did it without Korneev who appeared in just four of the team’s 10 playoff games and might miss the rest of the gold medal series.

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