Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It would mean the world to many Montreal Canadiens fans for Andrei Markov to hit the 1000-game mark wearing a Habs jersey but the priority for the organization should be to improve upon last season, something that would not happen if they brought Markov back.
The Montreal Canadiens allowed one of their longest tenured defensemen in franchise history to walk away two years ago. Andrei Markov wasn’t given the type of contract offer he felt was fair, so he packed his bags and headed to Russia where he played in the KHL for the past two seasons.
Although there is nothing concrete as of yet, Andrei Markov is eyeing a return to the NHL. His agent Sergei Isakov has even been in contact with the Montreal Canadiens organization regarding his client according to a report coming out of Russia yesterday.
While it is true the Montreal Canadiens should meet with Andrei Markov, this meeting should not go any further than being out of courtesy.
When Markov left he had but 10 games remaining until he reached 1000 games played in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens. While it would be nice to see this happen, spending cap space on a pregame ceremony, however memorable for Markov and Habs fans alike, is not enough to warrant a return.
Too Late for a Return
After spending the past two seasons playing for the Kazan Ak-Bars, it is evident that Markov’s play has regressed since his time with in the NHL with the Canadiens.
In his last season with Ak-Bars, Markov had 2 goals and 12 assists for 14 points in 49 games. This is significantly lower than the 33 points in 55 games (5 goals, 28 assists) during the prior season he piled up upon his return to Russia.
Although his hockey IQ is still there even though his point totals were lower, Markov’s biggest flaw was his skating speed, something that was already an issue while playing for the Montreal Canadiens.
If Markov were to return to the NHL, the 40 year old would struggle in a league that is placing more emphasis on their players’ skills and speed than ever before.
When specifically looking at the Montreal Canadiens roster, Markov would fall down on the LD depth chart behind the likes of Victor Mete, Brett Kulak and the recently signed Ben Chiarot. Andrei Markov just no longer appears to be an NHL-caliber defenseman.
A Future Job With the Organization?
Although his time as a player has probably come to a close, Andrei Markov can one day return to the NHL and even the Montreal Canadiens in a different way.
Markov’s playmaking abilities derive from his hockey sense and ability to see the right play, something that can benefit a future assistant coach in the NHL in helping him develop the future defensemen of the NHL.
There would be no issue with Markov on the ice at Habs practice showing Mete how to set up a breakout and run a power play. We just can’t actually expect Markov to run the power play himself anymore.