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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 43 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Fresh off signing a 3-year contract extension, the pressure will be on Andrei Markov to produce. Historically an elite defenceman, Markov's recent injury history has called into question whether his best days are behind him, and if he is only a shift away from another debilitating injury. When healthy, Markov plays in virtually every situation and his point production is consistent. That being said, will "The General" lead the way from the blueline, or will he be watching games from the press box this season?
Markov was limited to 7 games last season after suffering two injuries to the same knee. In those few games, Markov assumed his usual role on the team and tallied 3 points, with one coming on the powerplay.
Season Stats: 7 GP, 1 goal, 2 assists, +2, 4 PIM, 1 PPA, 20 shots, 22:54 TOI
(Please note that Markov's injury-laden seasons have significantly affected these averages)
When he is healthy, Markov has been relied upon to play major minutes. The ascension of P.K. Subban may lighten his load, but we can safely expect Markov to be logging a lot of time on the powerplay, on the penalty-kill and matched up against the opposition's top players. Jacques Martin has yet to disclose his defensive pairing for the upcoming season, but Markov's potential partners include Subban, Alexei Yemelin, Josh Gorges and Yannick Weber.
A cloud of uncertainty clouds Markov's point projections for this year. Will Markov play a full season? Will he suffer no lingering ill-effects from his knee surgeries? Has missing 112 games over the last 2 seasons reduced his skill level? And although these questions can't be answered presently, one will have to take them into account when draft day rolls around. There are too many negative scenarios associated with Markov to consider taking him as your number one defenceman. Be patient and if he is available in the later rounds, then by all means, snatch him up. With high reward comes high risk, and Markov may end up proving to be an excellent sleeper pick this season if he stays healthy.
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- HabsWorld 2011 Fantasy Focus posted by B. La Rose