It’s been a long offseason for veteran defenseman Andrei Markov. After spending the first 990 games of his NHL career over 16 seasons since being drafted in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens, it was announced Thursday that the 38-year-old blueliner would not be re-signed. The Canadiens made some noise earlier in the week by signing Mark Streit – another former Canadiens’ blueliner, who will now likely be tasked with providing the leadership and experience that the team now lacks with Markov’s departure. While Markov was offered NHL contracts, he made it clear Thursday that he would not be signing with an NHL club for the 2017-18 season, but would instead be returning home to Russia and signing in the KHL.
"I've made my decision to move back to Russia and play in the KHL." – Andrei Markov
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) July 27, 2017
In 990 career games in the NHL, Markov became one of the best sixth-round draft picks in the history of the NHL. Scoring 119 goals and 572 points and providing stability on the Canadiens’ blue line for over a decade and a half, it’s clear that this process has been tough for both sides.
For Markov, the Canadiens and the city of Montreal are the only home he has known outside of Russia since he was 22 years old. Though he never won a Stanley Cup with the team, he did play in 89 games, scoring five goals and 32 points and helped keep the Canadiens’ prestigious despite their championship drought with his classy play and demeanor. For the city of Montreal, many have never seen a Canadiens team without Markov on the roster. Debuting in the 2000-01 season, the Canadiens have seen many players, coaches, managers and even owners come and go. The constant throughout that time, however, has always been Markov.
Markov Was Willing to Play on One Year Deal
While many were certain that the Canadiens and Markov were destined to part ways this offseason to due to contract demands of the Russian defenseman, it turns out that Markov’s demands simply weren’t out of line with what he deserved. As mentioned in his press conference with media highlighting his departure from the club and new chapter in the KHL, Markov stated that he would have signed a one-year deal with the Canadiens to remain in Montreal. The team ultimately declined the deal, however. With the team currently projected to have just over $8 million in cap space for the 2017-18 season, it’s curious to see the team moving on from a lifelong Canadiens’ player who would have signed with no commitment or risk beyond the upcoming season.
In the end, this situation might work out best for Markov as he now gets an opportunity to play for Russia in the upcoming Olympics. Though he won’t get a chance to play with the Canadiens this season, however, the veteran defender hasn’t yet closed the door on a potential return to the NHL in the future, potentially with the Canadiens. Getting a chance to represent his country at the Olympics with a possibility of returning to the NHL in the near future could be the best case scenario for Markov, but only time will tell. The full press conference dictation can be found here.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.