Andrei Markov has been Montreal’s best defenseman for the longest time. He’s a very good skater, he’s a force on the powerplay, he is an elite puck mover and he can defend just as well as he can produce offense. It’s rare that a defenseman in the NHL can be an impact player in all 3 zones. Most D are slotted as either offensive players that join the rush and play big minutes on the PP, or are asked to play a shutdown role against opposing teams’ top lines and kill penalties. Think about it – how many defenseman are actually considered to be well above average at both? Chara, Myers, Keith, Lidstrom, Doughty, Weber, Suter, Pronger and maybe Markov and Erik Johnson. You can make a case for some others, but I doubt your list will feature more than 15 names.
As good as he is, I think the time has come for Montreal to trade Andrei Markov.
Believe me, I think Markov is VERY good, but I don’t think it is worth it to keep him around. First of all, he is constantly getting hurt. It’s not entirely his fault, but do you really feel like the Canadiens should be signing a long-term contract with a guy that is never healthy when you need him most? A few years ago, when Montreal was the #1 seed, he missed the second round of the playoffs and the Canadiens lost to Philadelphia. One year later, the Habs were the #8 seed facing the #1 Bruins and they were swept, of course, Markov missed all 4 games with an injury. This past season, when Montreal went on their miracle run, Markov was hurt early on in their second round matchup vs the Penguins. He missed the majority of that series (which Montreal ended up winning regardless) and when they were beaten up by the Flyers in 5 games, #79 could only watch from the press box. Going back to my initial point, I don’t think its wise to invest another $30 million over 5 years, which is what he will command as an unrestricted free agent, in an asset that is never available during the playoffs.
Despite all of that, Markov is still considered an elite player. He is, however, in his early 30s and his value will without a doubt start to decline. He will still be very good for the remainder of his NHL career, but his trade value will only diminish over time. It’s time to sell before his stock plummets or before he decides he will leave on July 1, 2011. The Canadiens are very thin on D prospects with the exception of PK Subban, so I think the Habs would be better off replenishing their organization with some young talent, rather than invest big money in Markov. The ideal move would be to trade him now or early on in the season, so that his contract status (UFA 2011) will not affect the return. I can’t stand watching guys like Souray, Streit, Komisarek and potentially Plekanec leave for nothing. It’s just bad business. Trade him now so the team can, at the very least, get compensated a little. They will not get a player as good as Markov in return, but they can restock their system with prospects so that in the long run it will pay off.
The question most fans will now ask is “who will replace Markov, if they wont be getting a player of equal value in return?” Take a look at who the Canadiens can invest $5 to $6 million in next year as a replacement for Markov – Zdeno Chara, Tomas Kaberle, Ed Jovanovski or even a combination of players like Chris Phillips, Mark Giordano, Andy Greene, Jonathan Ericsson and Christian Ehrhoff.
None of those players, except Chara, are as good as Andrei Markov; but they are still good players, and at least they will be there when it counts. It was difficult for me to come to terms with the reality of this situation, but I believe it will be for the best if/when Markov does leave the Montreal Canadiens.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.