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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is this the end of Andrei Markov?


Everything has a beginning and an end. I believe we are approaching the end of an era: the Andrei Markov era. Drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 6th round of the NHL draft in 1998. Andrei broke into the league in the 2002-03 season after bouncing between Montreal and Quebec (Montreal's then minor-league affiliate) for two seasons. He would soon become the Habs' best defenceman logging huge minutes and being the go-to-guy on the power-play. Always top 5-10 in league statistics among offensive defensemen.

Andrei Markov is currently in the final year of his three-year deal worth $17.25 million and he's looking for an extension. Earlier in the season, Andrei fired his agent Don Meehan and decided to handle the contract negotiations. Shortly thereafter it was announced that former Hab and teammate, Sergei Berezin, had been hired as his new agent. Guess he didn't realize how cutthroat negotiating can be. At 35 years of age, its not about dollars so much as it is about term. The past couple seasons he has gotten off to a great start only to fizzle out in the second half and be almost invisible during playoffs due to logging big minutes night in, night out. On repaired knees, it takes its toll and it's obvious in his play. The age is beginning to show and he knows his time is coming up, hence the term, he doesn't want to go through another negotiation. Markov wants this to be his last contract.

It was reported yesterday that Marc Bergevin offered Markov a one-year contract worth $6 million. I believe he has since rejected the offer looking more for a three-year contract. Is Bergevin prepared to go three years? No. I don't believe he is. I also believe it was a bit of a PR move. Offer Markov a contract that you know he will not take, that way you don't look like the bad guy in the eyes of fans when that trade is announced. Fans absolutely love #79, and would hate to see him go. If Andrei is not in the Canadiens future plans, it would only make sense get something while his value is still high. Smart asset management is what will make Habs successful in the long run.

Now what is Markov worth on the open market? Well, it's been reported by NHL insiders like Darren Dreger and Bob Mackenzie that he could fetch a first round pick AND a young roster player or high end prospect. If I had to guess on possible trading partners since Andrei has a modified no-trade clause, which basically means he can pick where he goes, I'd say places like Washington to play with his buddy Alex, Pittsburgh, Vancouver or Detroit. Those make sense to me anyway.

I also wouldn't be entirely shocked if he happens to re-sign in Montreal. My guess, he takes two years at $5 million per year, he gets a bit more term and Marc saves a bit more money because we all know he's got to back up the truck for P.K. Subban.

As far as rumors, Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta are being shopped pretty hard, but no bites. Barely any nibbles. A lot of the chatter will be put to bed by next week when the NHL trade deadline approaches next week.

Sean Dempsey
Writer for Habsaddict.com, Father of 3 with an awesome wife! Sports head – My father told me I'm a Habs fan cause he dropped me; he's a Bruins fan. Follow me on twitter @Dewstyle_Hockey

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