Markov’s Departure Marks a Hardball Era in Montreal

The Canadiens announced Thursday Markov, who has spent his entire 16-year career with Montreal, will not be re-signed by the team.

The 38-year-old finished with six goals and 30 assists in 62 games for the Habs last season, and has 119 goals – third all-time among Canadiens defencemen – and 453 assists in 990 career NHL games. All with the Habs.

He sits sixth in franchise history in games played and tied for second in points with Guy Lapointe for points among defenceman.

Markov, who is acting as his own agent this summer (power move)  is believed to be seeking a two-year, $12 million contract. He is coming off a three-year, $17.25 million contract signed ahead of the 2014-15 season. His AAV on this contract was 5.75. This new contract obviously averages 6 million. He is older, slowing down and is part of an expensive D core. 12 Million is unreasonable for Montreal. That being said 9 million, with bonuses would not be an insane proposition. Alzner, Petry and Weber combine for over 17 million. Currently the Habs sit a little over 8 million below the Salary Cap. A 6 Million dollar contract would not leave Montreal with much room to navigate, and the signing of Streit for 1 year (for under 1 million) was a budget decision for Montreal. Even if Streit gets 80% of the points Markov did last season, he earns 15% of what Markov earned last season.

It is believed that Streit’s one year deal in Montreal would signal the ousting of Markov and his large ‘potential’ contract.

Marc Bergevin is playing hardball this off-season. Making aggressive moves to acquire Drouin, and the inability to resign Radulov are putting a target on Bergevin’s back.

While I don’t believe Markov should be receiving a 12 Million Dollar contract for two years, I believe he should have remained in Montreal. His style of play fit the Hab’s blue line tremendously, as his defensive presence was always felt in the back end. His use on the PP along with shorthanded situations made him a versatile and intelligent defender for quite some time.

Claude Julien’s return to Montreal is another example of Bergevin’s active GM approach. While the Hab’s were at the top of the Atlantic, changes needed to be made. A proactive change in coaching helped the Canadiens rebound and enter the playoffs on a strong foot.

Markov has obviously been an integral part of the Habs for a long time. Seeing Markov and the Canadien’s ownership navigate free agency has truly demonstrated the hardball stance they have adopted. Either be cap friendly, or go on your merry way.

The Russian blueliner was drafted by the Canadiens in the sixth round of 1998 NHL Draft and made his debut with the club in 2000.

He owns five golas and 32 points in 89 playoff games, advancing as far as the Eastern Conference Final in 2014. He was named an All-Star in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009.

Markov ranked third among Canadiens defencemen with 21:50 of time on ice per game last season.

Lets just hope he doesn’t go to Dallas or the media frenzy will just be bonkers.


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