Mark Streit

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It’s Montreal Canadiens day at PHT

It was another summer of change for the Montreal Canadiens.

Following a mostly successful regular season and then a disappointing first-round exit from the playoffs at the hands of the New York Rangers, general manager Marc Bergevin had an eventful summer re-tooling his team.

The Canadiens said goodbye to their longest-tenured member (Andrei Markov), one of their best players from a year ago (Alexander Radulov) and a couple of other role players (Alexei Emelin, Nathan Bealieu). In their place will be an exciting young forward (Jonathan Drouin), a couple of lottery tickets on veterans Ales Hemsky and Mark Streit, and a risky big-ticket free agency in Karl Alzner.

They also made starting goaltender Carey Price one of the highest paid players in the NHL.

Are those the changes the Canadiens need to get over the hump?

Or will it be more of the same in 2017-18 where they only go as far as Price can take them?

Today at PHT we will focus on all of the key storylines impacting the Montreal Canadiens as NHL training camps get closer.

Markov, Habs officially part ways

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Andrei Markov‘s run of 17 consecutive seasons in Montreal is over.

On Thursday, the Habs announced that Markov — who’s played all 990 of his career NHL contests with the Canadiens — wouldn’t be brought back for the 2017-18 campaign.

The news comes after months of rumblings about Markov’s contractual status. It was initially believed the 38-year-old UFA was looking for $12 million over two years, and there was a brief flirtation with the Flyers (which, it later turned out, was simply Markov’s interest in going to Philly, not the Flyers actively pursuing him).

Montreal GM Marc Bergevin stated on several occasions he wanted to bring Markov back, but only at the right price and term. That’s because Bergevin knew Markov still played an important role — despite appearing in just 62 games last year, the Russian rearguard was offensively productive, with six goals and 36 points, and averaged nearly 22 minutes per night.

That said, Bergevin also knew the financial realities. He dished out big bucks this offseason — a combined $154.8 million for Carey Price, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk and Karl Alzner — and just didn’t have the money left to give Markov a big ticket.

Instead, Bergevin played it conservative in rounding out his defense, which included Tuesday’s one-year, $700,000 deal for Mark Streit. Some saw that deal as the writing on the wall for Markov in Montreal.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see where Markov ends up. If he lowers his asking price, there’s no doubt an NHL team would be interested. If he doesn’t, he could angle for a KHL deal and the opportunity to represent Russia in the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

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The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Report: Canadiens have made an offer to Mark Streit

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The number of free agents that have gone on to sign with their former teams has been remarkable (see Scott Hartnell, Justin Williams, Dominic Moore, Mike Cammalleri, Chad Johnson, and so on), but it sounds like there could be at least one more reunion on the horizon.

According to the Journal de Montreal’s Marc De Foy, the Montreal Canadiens have made a one-year, $1.5 million offer to Mark Streit.

Streit began his career in Montreal after being selected in the ninth round of the 2004 draft. He played for the Habs from 2005 to 2008, and he had his best NHL season in 2007-08 (he put up a career-high 62 points in 81 games).

De Foy also reports that GM Marc Bergevin tried to acquire Streit before the trade deadline, but he was unable to do so because of the salary cap. Instead, the 39-year-old was traded from Philadelphia to Tampa Bay before being dealt to Pittsburgh.

Streit was part of the Penguins team that won the Stanley Cup in the spring, but he only suited up in three games during their run to the final.

He finished last season with six goals and 27 points in 68 contests. He averaged 18:44 of ice time in 2016-17 (19:23 with Philadelphia, 17:06 with Pittsburgh).

Montreal’s interest in him would likely diminish if they found a way to get a contract finalized with free agent Andrei Markov.

Markov is reportedly seeking a two-year contract worth $6 million per year, while Montreal is only offering one year at a lower salary.

Del Zotto to get bigger offensive role in Vancouver

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In Michael Del Zotto‘s first year in Philadelphia, Mark Streit was the top power-play defenseman on the Flyers.

The second year, Shayne Gostisbehere came along, and Streit was still there.

The third year, another talented, young defenseman was added to the mix in Ivan Provorov. That knocked Del Zotto down to fourth in power-play time among Flyers d-men: just 48:46 on the season, compared to 65:16 on the penalty kill.

It also spelled an end to Del Zotto’s career in Philly. The Flyers were moving on without him. On July 1, he signed a two-year, $6 million contract with Vancouver.

For the 27-year-old, the change of scenery should be a good opportunity, given the Canucks’ blue line doesn’t have nearly the kind of offensive ability that the Flyers have built up on theirs.

Mobility was another glaring issue for Vancouver’s defense last season.

“You have to be able to move into today’s game,” said Del Zotto, per The Province. “It’s all about puck retrieval and the strength of my game is that first pass and that’s what the game has become. And I didn’t get a ton of power play time in Philly because my role there was more defensive, which is fine, because it’s about whatever it takes to win.”

Next season, Del Zotto will compete with the likes of Alex Edler, Troy Stecher, and Ben Hutton for power-play time. The Canucks were dreadful (29th, 14.1%) with the man advantage in 2016-17 — a big reason they also signed forwards Sam Gagner and Alexander Burmistrov on July 1.

“We wanted to add experienced players to help with the development of our kids,” GM Jim Benning said, per NHL.com. “These players are still relatively young, they add speed and skill, and it will help with the competition for ice time and jobs. Now our young players have to earn spots.”