New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens - Game One

Markov signs three-year, $17.25 million deal with Montreal


One of the top offensive defensemen has been scratched off the list of potential unrestricted free agents. The Montreal Canadiens have announced that they inked Andrei Markov to a three-year contract. The financial terms were not disclosed, but he will reportedly earn $17.25 million over the length of the deal, according to TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie.

If that’s the case, then Markov’s new contract is identical to the one he just completed. He will turn 36 in December, so his age is increasingly becoming a factor, but he’s coming off of a season where he scored seven goals and 43 points in 81 games. That includes 21 points with the man advantage, which put him in a tie for 11th place among defensemen.

Markov has also been a workhorse for the Canadiens for years and was one of just 11 players to average 25 or more minutes in 2013-14.

With Markov signed, the Canadiens now have roughly $51.4 million in cap space committed to 18 players, per Cap Geek. That leaves them with plenty of space to re-sign restricted free agent P.K. Subban, who is likely to command a lucrative deal after winning the Norris Trophy in 2013 and recording 53 points last season.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen