The Montreal Canadiens and Andrei Markov agreed to a new three-year, $17.25M contract Monday. The 35-year-old defenceman, who was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, will return to the only team he has ever played for to be the veteran leader on a very young blue line.
“We are very happy to have secured a long term agreement with Andrei,” general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “He is an important part of our group of core players.”
“I knew before the season was over I’d like to stay with the Montreal Canadiens, so I’m happy the deal was done and I’m looking forward now,” Markov said. “I feel like I’m at home here.”
Markov was drafted in the sixth round, 162nd overall by Montreal in 1998 and made his NHL debut two years later. In 765 games, he has 98 goals and 344 assists. He potted seven goals this season, with 36 assists, a +12 rating and a team-high 25:14 minutes per game.
Markov’s career appeared to be in jeopardy a couple of years ago when knee surgeries kept him out of all but 65 games over a three year span, from 2009-2012. His health has improved the last couple years. Between the shortened 48 game season and the one that just ended, he has only missed one game.
“It wasn’t easy when I had injuries, but I always stayed positive,” Markov said. “The last two years I felt good. My health is good. I enjoy the game like I used to. I’m looking forward to next season.”
“He is healthy, shows a very good work ethic and has great leadership skills,” Bergevin said. “He plays big minutes against the top opponents, and game-changing defencemen of his calibre are hard to find.”
Montreal still has some big name players to sign, led by PK Subban and Lars Eller who are both restricted free agents. Brian Gionta and Mike Weaver are both unrestricted and it is unclear if they will be back in Montreal next season.