Dec 28, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban (76) and defenseman Andrei Markov (79) talk against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Andrei Markov Not Worth Risk For Montreal Canadiens To Re-Sign

 

Jan 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov (79) celebrates his goal against Chicago Blackhawks with teammate defenseman Alexei Emelin (74) during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Andrei Markov is playing out the final year of his contract and is having another solid season. He is playing top pairing minutes in all situations, and is fourth on the team in points. Markov is undoubtedly a huge part of the current Canadiens blue line group, but should the Canadiens re-sign him?

Jan 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov (79) gives away a puck as he is named first stard of the game against Chicago Blackhawks at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Markov would be tough to replace, as he and Subban are the only two Habs defenders who have been scoring this season. Actually, they are the only two Habs defensemen who have passed the puck consistently this season. Needless to say, Andrei Markov is a hugely valuable member of the Montreal Canadiens.

But, what is going to cost to keep the guy around? And is it all worth the risk?

Well, there is plenty of risk to consider when talking about Andrei Markov. The guy hasn’t played more than 48 games since the 2008-09 season. He injured his knee more times than the Toronto Maple Leafs missed the postseason since the 05 lockout, and he is aging rapidly.

Markov just turned 35 years old in December, which in terms of offensive defensemen is considered ancient. Sergei Gonchar, another Russian offensive minded puck moving defenseman, dropped off considerably after the age of 35. Considered a lock for 60 points earlier in his career, even in his early 30’s, Gonchar slipped to 27 points at the age of 36. Though he fooled the Dallas Stars into giving him a big contract this past off season, he is a shadow of his former self, and is struggling in Texas.

Dan Boyle turned 35 just before the 2011-12 season, and though his offense did not dry up overnight, he is not scoring at the same rate he did when he was 33 either. Boyle nearly hit 60 points several times in his early 30’s, but likely won’t reach 40 this year as a 37 year old.

At 33, Tomas Kaberle was considered one of the best offensive defensemen in the league, do I need to tell you what happened to him Habs fans? Didn’t think so.

Dec 12, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Montreal Canadiens right wing Brandon Prust (8) and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Mark Streit (32) battle for the puck during the third period. The Flyers defeated the Canadiens, 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Then there is the Philadelphia Flyers, what a mess. Still trying to tap something out of Kimmo Timonen and Mark Streit who are both older than most of their coaches, and realizing they are paying big money for past performance. Timonen (38) and Streit (36) have combined for 34 points in 94 games this season, and earn 11.25 million towards the cap.

And that is the biggest risk when it comes to signing Andrei Markov to another contract. We all remember the days when he ran the power play with Sheldon Souray, Mark Streit, even Marc-Andre Bergeron and of course Subban. He was excellent at it, and is still pretty darn good at now.

But how long can that last? How good will Markov be in three years? Two years? Two Months?

It is hard to say, but the evidence is pretty strong that his offense is about to fall off the table, and when it does he will be a huge liability.

Marc Bergevin will have to take this into account when trying to negotiate a contract extension with Markov. Based on his stats, Markov is worth at least what Gonchar got from the Stars last year, (2 years at 5 million per) and probably quite a bit more.

 

Rumors are that contract talks are already in the preliminary stage, but I must say Bergevin should practice some patience with this one. Wait until the end of the season and if he is still producing, and still even healthy, then you have a big decision to make. There are 35 games remaining on the Habs schedule, plus Markov will be playing in the Olympics in his home country of Russia, and then there are Habs playoff games to consider. That is a lot of hockey for the old fella to suit up for this season, so don’t go ahead and give him an extension now.

Just wait it out, because if he struggles in the second half, or blows his knee out again, you don’t want to be the team paying 6 million for a player who isn’t going to help the team.

Who knows, if this team keeps playing the way it has recently (Blackhawks game aside), you may be looking to sell by the time the deadline rolls around anyway. Then you can peddle him away to the highest bidder, and then laugh hysterically when the Flyers buy out Streit only to sign Markov to an 11 year contract for a bajillion dollars.

I like Markov, and he has been one of the best Canadiens players over the past decade. But players shouldn’t be paid on past performance. If Markov was willing to sign a one year deal after proving he is durable enough to last nearly 100 games this season that would be great. But he won’t. He will look for a 3 year deal at 6 million per year, and when he does, Bergevin should just trade his rights at the draft for a pick. Hey, we got Charles Hudon for James Wisniewski that way!

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