Defencemen Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu are going to be seeing a lot of ice time this season — with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Both players had a chance to play with the Canadiens last month and displayed some National Hockey League level skills. But the plan going into training camp was for the youngsters to spend most of this season developing their skills in the American Hockey League.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien was forced to revise the plan because of injuries to defencemen Douglas Murray and Davis Drewiske and the continuing absence of Alexei Emelin, who is recovering from major knee surgery.

Tinordi and Beaulieu became expendable last weekend when Murray was cleared to play and they will drop further on the depth chart when Emelin makes his highly anticipated return.

The Canadiens offered a sign that Emelin is getting close when they announced Thursday that he had agreed to a four-year contract extension worth $16.4 million. It’s unlikely the Canadiens would have made that commitment without assurances that Emelin was well on his way to a full recovery. On Thursday, Emelin said he was aiming for a mid-November return.

The new deal is worth $4.1 million a season and more than doubles the $2 million Emelin will receive this season, but it can be viewed as a bargain. Anyone who doubts Emelin’s worth has only to check the Canadiens’ record last season. The team’s decline at the end of the season coincided with Emelin’s departure. The Canadiens finished second in the Eastern Conference, but without their most physical defenceman they went 4-5-0 to close the regular season and were upset by Ottawa in five games in the first round of the playoffs.

I’m grateful to reader Laurence Rosenbloom, who did the math and noted that the Canadiens had a 2.39 goals-against average with Emelin in the lineup last season and a 3.50 GAA after he was injured.