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Andrei Markov’s free agency continues to drag on with neither he nor Marc Bergevin seemingly blinking at this point.  Bergevin stated his best offer has already been made but our writers discuss how much that offer should be for.

Gordon Black: I would offer one year at $5-6 Million. I believe that is what has already been offered and it is smart. Sometimes it is important to remain silent and appear stupid, rather open your mouth and remove all doubt. That seems to be Bergevin’s strategy here. He may have had intel that he would be able to make a deal for a centre by also taking a cap dump – or some inside knowledge that John Tavares is unlikely to re-sign – either way, at this moment there are reasons why having that cap space could make sense in the context of the larger picture. If the space created by not signing Alexander Radulov and Markov to the deals they wanted was not part of a bigger strategy, and the Habs now sign Andrei to the deal he had originally asked for, all bets are off and Bergevin is covering up mistakes instead of sticking to his plan.

Optics are very important in business and there will be many GMs unsure of whether or not the Habs have a strategy moving forward, or if they are just reacting. Signing Markov to a 2-year deal at anything close to what he asked for would put blood in the water and significantly reduce the chances that Bergevin will be able to negotiate from a position of strength now, and throughout the rest of the season.

Hilding Gnanapragasm: Not long ago it was reported on this site that to sign Markov to a figure close to his asking price, would give the Canadiens the highest-paid defence corps in the NHL. While it is largely true that defence wins championships, this seems counter-intuitive for the Canadiens – a team whose most glaring need is for more offence. Having said that, there certainly don’t appear to be many options for the Canadiens to spend their $9M in cap space on offence – either or the free agency or trade markets. Compound this with the fact that the Canadiens have said goodbye to left siders Nathan Beaulieu, Alexei Emelin and Mikhail Sergachev and it suddenly doesn’t sound like such a crazy idea to give Andrei what he wants.

If I were in charge, I would offer Andrei five million dollars for one year of service, or, if he is absolutely stuck on six million, he can have that spread over two seasons, for an AAV of $3M. If he were to accept the former, the Canadiens would still have a bit of breathing room under the cap, should an interesting option present itself to improve the offence. At the end of the day, the Canadiens need Markov’s offence and it would be nice to see him end his career in Montreal.

Brian La Rose: Back before Markov hit the open market, I figured he was worth between $4.25 and $4.5 million on a one year deal.  Yes, he’s coming off another strong season but the fact remains that he is 38 and can’t handle the type of minutes he was even just a couple of years ago.  Knowing that, I wouldn’t come close to meeting the $6 million a season he’s looking for and I’d be very hesitant to offer the second season.

If the trade market doesn’t look ideal and Bergevin doesn’t like the remaining free agent options out there, I’d up the ante to one year at $5 million if it would get the deal done.  If there are some other cards to play still though, I’d keep waiting him out as quite frankly, there isn’t much of a market for him.  Most of the contenders don’t have the cap space to add anyone at that type of asking price and I have a hard time thinking that the non-contenders with room to spare are aggressively going after him.  I think Edmonton could be a realistic fit but after them, there isn’t much else in terms of competition so I believe there wouldn’t be much risk in playing this out for a little while longer.

Alex Létourneau: Based on needs and personal emotions, on the surface, Markov can’t go anywhere but back to Montreal. It’s perverse thinking he could play elsewhere. But once I start scratching the surface, I become conflicted. I wouldn’t pay him $6 million a year for two years. I would have to think term is the most important thing to him, so the price would have to come down if he wanted to stay for two seasons. That said, signing him would make Montreal the most expensive defence in the NHL. That’s alarming considering they’re not going to be all that fast and none are high-level puck moving defencemen. That’s a lot of money on a goaltender and rearguards on a team bereft of scoring.

He fills a glaring need, no doubt about it. I don’t have the slightest idea what Bergevin has planned for the defence in the upcoming months, but a rumoured Mark Streit contract offer is not close to good enough. Maybe Brandon Davidson is expected to carry more of the load? So, I wouldn’t pay him the speculated price of $6 million per for two years. Looks like no one else is ready to either which should bode well for the Canadiens. Ultimately, I want him back, but not at a ludicrous price; I’d go as high as one year at his previous $5.75 million but I wouldn’t offer two years. I get he’s been loyal, but the organization has treated him just as well.

Paul MacLeod: I would have no problem offering Markov two years at $5.75 million or 1 year at $6 million simply because he remains the best option to play with Shea Weber. To not retain Markov leaves them taking a huge gamble on Jakub Jerabek and/or needing a trade to fill the hole.

Craig Scharien: I would love to see Markov back in a Montreal jersey next season, as not only would he be a good short term solution on the left side of the defence, but I can’t imagine him playing anywhere else. His vision, passing and offensive would be a welcome re-addition to a group sorely lacking in those departments.

I would offer Markov a one year deal at $6 million. A two-year deal would be a possibility, but only at a significant discount, with no more than $10 million spread over the two seasons ($5 million AAV). Additionally, on a two year deal, the second year could not have any NTCs or an NMC attached to it, there is simply too much risk to limit options to move him at the end of the deal.