On Monday, the Montreal Canadiens locked up defenseman Andrei Markov, signing the pending unrestricted free agent to a three-year contract. While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, it is reportedly worth an average annual value of $5.75 million. It also includes a full no-trade clause in the first season, and a limited no-trade clause in the subsequent years.
“I never doubted I’d be back with the Canadiens,” said Markov. “I knew before last season ended that I wanted to stay in Montreal. I’m happy we came to an agreement and I’m excited about next season.”
Selected by the Habs in the sixth round if the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Markov has spent his entire career with the Canadiens. In 765 NHL games, Markov has scored 98 goals and 442 points. He spent most of last season paired with reigning Norris Trophy winner (and pending restricted free agent) P.K. Subban, scoring 43 points in 81 games. He also added 10 points in 17 playoff contests.
The 35-year-old Markov has the sixth longest current service streak with one team in the NHL. His career has been plagued with injuries, yet he has only missed one game in the past two seasons.
"It wasn't easy when I had all those injuries but I always stayed positive and lots of people helped me a lot like the strength and conditioning coaches, all my friends, the Montreal organization," said Markov. "It helped me a lot. The last two years I felt good. My health is good and I enjoyed the game like I used to. Right now I'm healthy and I'm looking forward to next season."
A native of Voskresensk, Russia, Markov became a Canadian citizen a few summers ago. The Russian rearguard is clearly enamored with the city.
“I could talk about Montreal for hours,” he said. “Every time you jump on the ice is special. It’s an incredible feeling having so many fans behind you, supporting you.”
The Canadiens made a surprising run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, where they were eliminated by the New York Rangers in a truculent six-game series.