Andrei Markov’s contract situation has garnered a lot of attention lately.
Most fans would acknowledge that they’d like to see him back on a short-term
deal. Markov, however, is seeking a longer-term pact that would likely
take him to retirement, around three years. Is that too long of a contract
for the 35 year old? Our writers weigh in with their thoughts.
Our writers were asked the following: Would you give Andrei Markov a 3
year deal at a similar rate as his most recent contract ($5.75 M per year)?
Simon Aronson: When it comes to the re-signing of Andrei
Markov, I am most definitely in favour of offering him a three year deal at a
very similar rate to his currently expiring deal. For starters, Markov has
silenced the doubters of his durability by playing in all but one regular season
games over the last two seasons as well as 22 playoff games and an Olympic
tournament. At this point, I would consider him no more susceptible to injury
than a player who has never suffered one. Secondly, with the rise in the salary
cap as well as general inflation, signing him at the same rate would actually be
signing him for relatively less compared to the deal he signed three years ago.
Now given, Markov is 35 and will turn 36 in December so it would be foolish
not to expect his game to dip to a degree over the next 3 years. However, that
said, Markov’s biggest strength does not lie with his physical abilities but
rather with his mental understanding of the game, something which I do not
foresee dropping in the slightest.
Now for the statistics; Markov led all Canadiens players in ATOI last season
as well as putting up 43 points and a +12 rating. Those 43 points were good
enough to be tied for 17th in scoring among defensemen and he was one of only 25
in the entire league to score more than 40 points. Aside from the points he
produces, Markov provides leadership and mentorship to the team. There is no
doubt in my mind that his presence has helped P.K. Subban’s development as I
have noticed P.K. make increasingly more ‘Markov-esque’ plays, not to mention
that Nathan Beaulieu stands to benefit from Markov’s presence as he looks to
take a more prominent role on the team.
If for some reason the Canadiens chose not to offer Markov a contract, there
is no doubt in my mind that he could easily get the same deal over the next
three years or more in the wild UFA market that often see desperate GM’s over
pay, not to mention that should he walk, he would be nearly impossible to
replace. With Markov aging as a life long Hab and a strong young core starting
to mature in Montreal there is likely no reason why he would want out. That said
he could probably be signed at a rate that would be friendly to the team and the
player without taking much of a pay cut.
Brian La Rose: If I were Marc Bergevin, I wouldn’t be offering
that deal at the outset. I’d be pushing the shorter term at a slightly
higher amount to avoid the risk that the third year could present with the
potential to sign another one year deal later on if he still has something in
the tank when this new contract expires. If Markov declines, however, I’d
likely begrudgingly put the third year in play. There aren’t many quality
UFA options out there which means the trade route would be particularly pricey
as well. I’d push for the AAV to come down with the third year at the
beginning but if he were to sign for $5.75 M for three years, I wouldn’t be too
upset. That third year could be an issue but there’s no denying that
Markov has something left in the tank. I’d rather he prove that with the
Habs than elsewhere.
Alex Létourneau: No, a 2-year deal valued at 8-9 million is
fine enough. While he’s still a key piece on the powerplay, his good decision
making abilities tapered off as the season and postseason progressed. He looked
tired and at 35 years old, that’s not a problem that will go away. Is he worth
keeping? Absolutely. Is he worth keeping at 3 years, $5+ million? No.
Matt Macaskill: I’d bring back Markov on a similar deal (3
years), but preferably in the $4.5 to $5 million dollar range. He’s the kind of
player the Habs would be looking to add again at the deadline over the next few
years for deep playoff runs. It would be a lot easier if Bergevin just kept him
around and improved other areas of the team at that time.
Markov’s value to the team may be improved by moving him down the depth
chart. Pairing him with a fleet-footed defenseman would be ideal, as both he and
Emelin were victimized during the 2014 NHL Playoffs. On the other hand, Andrei
played some of his best hockey alongside P.K. Subban at the start of the season,
but would require the aging veteran to continue playing big minutes.
Markov’s been in Montreal his entire career and it would be great to see him
retire here. He knows the city, the team, and can act as a mentor for some of
the younger talent coming up the ranks, such as Beaulieu, Tinordi, and Pateryn.
These young defenseman will inherit his ice time with the team later, if not
Kevin Meldrum: I would not give Markov a 3 year deal, he has
slowed down and can not handle 20+ minutes a game night after night. I feel he
had way too many turnovers in the playoffs. That being said he still is a smart
positional player who can make a great first pass when given the time to do so
and he is still effective on the PP. I would be inclined to offer a max 2
years contract at the same rate of 5.75 million but not 3 and not before I
looked at younger options on the trade market.
Norm Szcyrek: For Markov, I hope the Habs do re-sign him but
the Habs should go no higher than $6M per season and no more than 3 seasons.
That would give him a modest raise, and the security he’s alleged to be looking
for to stay in Montreal. For the critics that believe he’s injury prone or the
Habs should be risk averse and offer less than 3 seasons, I point out that
Andrei played all of the lockout season games, and all but one game this season
while averaging between 24 and 25 minutes per game each season. While he did
look tired at the end of the Conference Finals, he also played top minutes in
the Olympics and he received higher minutes in the post season. I believe Markov
feels loyal to the team and vice versa, as much as a team can be loyal in the
salary cap world of the NHL. His role on the team cannot be replaced by any
upcoming UFA’s at the same level, and his presence in the lineup will allow the
Habs to insulate young defencemen like Beaulieu so he can develop a bit slower
and transaction smoother to the NHL level. Not to mention that I believe Markov
has more to help out his fellow countryman Emelin develop as a NHL blueliner.