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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
Andrei Markov played all 48 games of the Habs' lockout shortened season, and added five more in the playoffs. This is encouraging news for the veteran defenceman, who played only 65 of the teamís 246 games in the three years prior (2009-2012). Markov has made a dedicated recovery from two right knee injuries and a freakish Achilles tendon injury suffered during that span. Itís natural if you feel hesitant about selecting Markov for your fantasy pool this season; some fans still hold their breath every time the Montreal rearguard takes a hit.
With 30 points in 48 games last season, Markov proved he was still one of the better offensive defencemen in the league. Rather than twiddle his thumbs during the lockout, Markov signed with Vityaz Chekhov of the KHL where he contributed 8 points in 21 games. When he returned to Montreal, Markov was paired with Alexei Emelin until the latter suffered a season ending knee injury of his own. Even though itís noticeable Markov has lost a step to his game, the pairing was one of Montreal's most reliable last season. Markovís quiet success was overshadowed by P.K. Subbanís Norris Trophy performance in 2012-2013. However, the two strived on the powerplay where Markov collected 8 goals, and 15 assists. Of his 30 points on the season, 23 came with the man advantage.Season Stats: GP 48, G 10, A 20, PTS 30, +/- -9, PIM 14, PPG 8, SHG 0, GWG 4, SOG 79, ATOI 24:07
5 Year Averages
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13's numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
Markov may no longer the number one powerplay quarterback on the team, but he may well be the mastermind. With Subbanís emergence and Raphael Diazís production last season, Markov finally has some offensive support courtesy of the young defencemen coming up through Montrealís system. The less pressure on Markov to log big minutes night in and night out, the less likely he is to burn out. Markov is still a top four defencemen and heíll see plenty of time on the teamís first powerplay unit. With Emelinís injury expected to keep him out of the lineup until November, Markov will begin the upcoming season with a different partner until he returns.
There are some questions leading into Markovís final year of a controversial 3-year, $17.25M contract signed between knee surgeries. Itís unlikely that he will be offered the same amount of money to stick around beyond this season, particularly with Subban requiring a new contract thatís sure to break the bank. However, Markov will surely want to play like a six million dollar man. Can he remain healthy and injury free for the majority of an 82-game season? Can he still put up 60 points in a season, or will his numbers drop with Subbanís and Diazís increased ice time?GP: 70
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- Fantasy Focus: Daniel Briere posted by Matthew Macaskill