HabsWorld.net -- 

The picture heading into free agency next week is a lot clearer now as the
Habs announced on Monday afternoon that defenceman Andrei Markov has signed a
new three year deal to remain with the club through the 2016-17 season. 
Financial terms were not officially disclosed but reports are that Markov will
earn $5.75 M per year on the contract, matching the same cap hit he has had on
his last two deals.

2013-14 was a strong season offensively for the Russian rearguard.  For
starters, he surpassed the 80 games played mark for the first time in five years
while his 43 points (7 goals, 36 assists) was his highest total since 2008-09. 
Although he was noticeably slowing down towards the end of the playoffs, he
collected ten points in 17 postseason games.  Markov also was among the
league leaders in minutes played; his 25:14 regular season ATOI ranked ninth in
the league.  In the playoffs, his ice time jumped to 25:59 per night,
ranking him eleventh in the league in that category.

This contract means that Markov will be ready to climb up in Montreal’s
all-time record book.  His 765 games played rank him 24th in franchise
history (10th among defencemen).  He ranks fourth among all-time Canadiens
blueliners in points with 442, just five points behind Doug Harvey for third. 

As Markov is 35 and the deal for three years, the contract falls under the
parameters of the 35+ rule.  Regardless of his playing status (healthy,
injured, or retired), his cap hit will count in full against Montreal’s salary
cap.  The Habs now have three regular defencemen under contract for next
year, Markov, Josh Gorges, and Alexei Emelin.  P.K. Subban will be a
restricted free agent (and will be able to talk to other teams starting on
Thursday) while Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, and Mike Weaver are all
pending UFA’s; their interview periods will begin Wednesday.

The Habs now have just over $49.5 million committed to eleven forwards, three
blueliners, and two goalies (Price/Budaj) for next season.

Markov’s comments on the contract from a media conference call: "I knew
before the season was over I’d like to stay with the Montreal Canadiens, so I’m
happy the deal was done and I’m looking forward now. I feel like I’m at home
here. I feel comfortable. I’d like to stay for the rest of my career. I’ve never
known (free agency), but it doesn’t matter. I’m happy with that deal."

Bergevin’s comments: "We are very happy to have secured a long term agreement
with Andrei…He plays big minutes against the top opponents, and game-changing
defensemen of his calibre are hard to find.”

Markov’s Stats