10/31/2013 12:51 EDT | Updated 12/31/2013 05:12 EST

Alexei Emelin, Canadiens strike 4-year contract extension

Alexei Emelin soon will make his season debut on the Montreal Canadiens blue-line armed with a new contract.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced Thursday the NHL team had agreed to a four-year extension through the 2017-18 season with Emelin, who continues his recovery from April knee surgery.

“We are very happy to have secured a long-term agreement with Alexei,” Bergevin said in a statement released by the Canadiens. “He is an important part of our group of core players. He shows a very good work ethic and has a good attitude."

Emelin, 27, scored three goals and 12 points in 38 games last season. The six-foot-two, 224-pounder added 110 hits, 47 blocked shots and a plus-2 rating.

“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,” he said.

Bergevin said “hard-hitting defencemen” like Emelin, who averaged 19 minutes 40 seconds of ice time a year ago, are hard to find.

The Togliatti, Russia native suffered a season-ending injury on April 6 against Boston.

In 105 NHL regular-season games, Emelin has 19 points on six goals and 13 assists.