As a leader both on and off the ice and with his knee problems firmly behind him, Andrei Markov remains an important piece of the Habs puzzle. He may have lost a step or two over the years, but The General is as smart as ever and in terms of fantasy he remains a valuable contributor, particularly on the powerplay.
As per usual, Markov spent the majority of the season riding shotgun with superstar P.K. Subban on the Canadiens’ first defensive pairing and on the first powerplay unit. The result was a rather spectacular regular season during which the then 35 year old racked up 50 points, including 25 with the man advantage. It was his third straight year of health after a string of knee injuries robbed him of the majority of the previous three seasons. In the playoffs his age began to show, as he was clearly gassed and struggled with the speed of the Lightning in the second round. All told the season was a success, but it may be time to realize that one of Montreal’s veterans is on the downside of a very good career.
Season stats: 81 GP, 10 goals, 40 assists, 50 points, +22 rating, 38 PIMS, 4 PPG, 0 SHG, 1 GWG, 135 shots, 24:55 TOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year. As Markov only played 20 games during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons combined his numbers are skewed to a degree.)
During the upcoming season we can expect a familiar role for Markov. The great news for him is that this means plenty of time playing alongside Subban as his partner on the first defence pairing. Markov can also be expected to log significant minutes on the powerplay, again likely with PK on the first unit. If the Habs can sort out their woes with the man advantage Markov could certainly bank quite a few points.
One has to think his breakdown during the playoffs will lead to Michel Therrien reducing his minutes somewhat. That this is even a possibility is a testament to the Habs depth on the back end. The addition of Jeff Petry for a full season and beyond takes a lot of pressure off the first pair, especially when coupled with the continued development of Nathan Beaulieu. Throw in Alexei Emelin, Tom Gilbert, Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn and I have to think Markov may see some days off as the season progresses.
Another 50 point season may be something of a stretch at 36, but that doesn’t mean Markov’s days of fantasy relevance are behind him. He’s likely to remain a stalwart on Montreal’s powerplay and as long as he’s playing with Subban it seems impossible that he won’t rack up some points along the way. Of course his age and obvious fatigue in the playoffs means that he may see reduced minutes at times and maybe even a few games off throughout the season – this will be important to monitor from a fantasy perspective. The good news is that it appears his injury-riddled past is behind him…and did I mention he plays with P.K. Subban?