There has been plenty of speculation over the past few days about Andrei Markov and that his days as a Montreal Canadien are numbered.
There are several reasons to suggest this could be true, he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and the Habs are not exactly Stanley Cup contenders at this point. Negotiations have been ongoing but the two teams are reportedly quite far apart on terms of a new deal.
Montreal are still holding down a playoff spot, so it is very likely they decide to keep the Russian defenseman, but if they were to move him, where would he go and what could they get in return?
Well, first of all, Markov is a veteran offensive defenseman who is still an excellent power play quarterback. So, the team looking to acquire him would be a team that has a chance at winning the Stanley Cup, but could use some help kickstarting their offensive game, especially on the power play.
When I look at the league standings for teams that have a legit chance to go deep in the postseason, yet could still use a boost on their power play, and keeping in mind Montreal would rather send Markov out west, three teams jump out at me. And they are all in California.
Los Angeles Kings:
The Kings have long been known as one of the best defensive teams in the league, but offense has always been an issue. They were able to score six last night in their first game back from the Olympic break but had a total of eight goals in the eight games prior to the Olympics.
L.A. has the best goals against average in the NHL, but are 26th in goal scoring, and 27th on power play percentage, where Markov could make a huge difference. The problem is that the Kings are quite satisfied with the group of six defensemen they are using, considering they are a big contributor to the fact their team has the best GAA in the league.
However, thanks to the NHL’s new divisional playoff format, the Kings will likely find themselves playing against the San Jose Sharks in the first round, and could use some reinforcements.
The Kings did give up a pair of second round picks for Robyn Regehr at last year’s deadline to fill a top four role, and Markov would fill a more pressing need. If Markov is dealt to the Kings, I would expect Montreal to get a young scoring winger in return. Though it could be Linden Vey, I would expect the deal to be Markov for Tanner Pearson and a 3rd round pick.
Los Angeles receives: Andrei Markov
Montreal receives: Tanner Pearson, Edmonton 3rd
San Jose Sharks:
San Jose has been cruising along all season and are once again going to be one of the best regular season teams in the league. Their problem is that they have never been able to translate that into playoff success.
They have the fourth best goals against average in the NHL, and though they rank tenth in goal scoring, their power play ranks near the bottom of the league. At 17.2% San Jose is 18th best when it comes to the man advantage, and regular PP quarterback Dan Boyle is having a down year.
Not long ago Boyle was a regular 50 point contributor but is on pace to finish this season with just 32 points. Markov’s 32 points would be leading all Sharks defenders, as Boyle has not registered a point in ten straight games. Perhaps Markov would be able to reboot Boyle’s offense and the pair would make a formidable duo on the power play.
The biggest problem is that the Sharks already have no cap space, and Montreal would have to eat a bad contract to make a deal happen. This makes a trade less likely but if the Habs were willing to take on the extra year of Martin Havlat’s deal, the Sharks may make it worth their while.
Havlat’s best years are behind him, even his average seasons are behind him. In parts of three seasons with the Sharks, he has 57 points in 107 games, including just ten points in 28 games this season. He is signed through next season at a 5 million dollar cap hit and will in all likelihood earn about ten percent of that with another injury plagued season.
So why would the Habs take him? Well it is the only way to make the cap fit, and then San Jose offers their first round pick as well as Pittsburgh’s second round pick this season which the Sharks picked up in the Douglas Murray trade last season.
San Jose receives: Andrei Markov
Montreal receives: Martin Havlat, San Jose 1st, Pittsburgh 2nd
The Anaheim Ducks are currently leading the race for the President’s Trophy as the team with the most regular season points. They are first overall in the extremely difficult Western Conference, but right now would face the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, followed by the winner of the San Jose-Los Angeles series, and then taking on the Central champ which will likely be either the St. Louis Blues or the Chicago Blackhawks.
That is a tough schedule just to get to the Stanley Cup Final, but the Ducks should be all in this season. First of all, they were a great regular season team but lost in the first round to the seventh seeded Detroit Red Wings, so they know you can never be comfortable with the team you have.
Second, this is Teemu Selanne’s final NHL season, and he means as much to the Ducks organization as any player means to their team in the league right now. They will do whatever it takes to make sure the Finnish Flash goes out on top.
They have an extremely deep pool of forwards, defensemen and goaltenders. In a word, this team is stacked. However, they could use one more veteran defender. Right now they are leaning heavily on 22 year old Cam Fowler and 19 year old rookie Hampus Lindholm to bring offense from the blue line.
The Ducks have scored lots of goals this season but could stand to see their special teams improve for the playoff run. Their 17th ranked PP is not even a huge problem, but it is their biggest weakness this season. You can be sure they will be looking to bolster that, and Markov would be the absolute perfect fit for them.
Anaheim has so many good young players and prospects at every position they are in an enviable position to load up at this deadline. They also have four picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, thanks to adding a first from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade, and a second from Toronto in the Jesse Blacker trade.
Anaheim has plenty of cap space so this would be a pure rental with them selling future assets. Montreal is pleased with their young defensemen Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn so they want to add a big winger who has a scoring touch.
Montreal will push for Emerson Etem but he is untouchable as far as the Ducks are concerned right now. Knowing Markov would be a perfect fit for the them, the Ducks agree to send Devante Smith-Pelley and the Toronto Maple Leafs second round pick in the 2014 draft.
Anaheim receives: Andrei Markov
Montreal receives: Devante Smith-Pelley, Toronto 2nd