The Montreal Canadiens announced today that they have re-signed defenceman Andrei Markov to a three-year contract. Markov was scheduled to become an unrestricted free-agent July 1.
Markov’s deal will be worth $5.75 million per year, the same as it has been since 2007-2008. The deal is a 35-plus contract which means that even if he retires, the Canadiens will be responsible for the salary on the cap.
You could say that three years is too long for a defenceman who turned 35 in December. However, with the cap going up, you could consider the 5.75 million to be a pay cut as it takes up a lower percentage of cap space.
It was clear that it would be either years or dollars conceded by either side. In the end, Markov conceded dollars and Marc Bergevin conceded years.
Markov is still a very good defenceman and after two injury-filled seasons, has been quite healthy the last two seasons. He has also played better, especially down the stretch. He doesn`t have the speed he once had but is very rarely caught out of position.
For me, it is the second and third years that worry me. Markov will probably be the same defenceman next year, but entering his 36 and 37 year old seasons, you have to expect some kind of decline.
This deal doesn`t do much to the Canadiens expected cap space. Frankly, if it wasn’t Markov, someone else would need to replace him and those kind of defencemen don’t come cheap.
Markov’s 5.75 million cap hit is similar to Mark Streit (5.25), Sergei Gonchar (5.00), Dan Girardi (5.50) and Paul Martin (5.00). It’s hard to argue Markov isn’t among the best in that group. Both Gonchar and Streit are even older than Markov.
The Canadiens still have a bunch of room to re-sign P.K. Subban, Lars Eller and still upgrade the team. They have 18.6 million left to spend with a conservative $70 million cap estimate for next year.