If there’s anything hockey fans are well-known for, it’s embracing outsiders, especially athletes from other major sports, that enjoy anything about hockey.
With tongue firmly in cheek, let’s waste no time in presenting to you: Miami Heat superstar LeBron James being given a Montreal Canadiens jersey by the team.
The comments on this should be wonderful. It’ll be much like the “Playa Haters Ball” from Chappelle’s Show.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov apparently doesn’t want to go anywhere else.
The 35-year-old Russian blue liner is in the final year of his three-year, $17.25 million deal with the Habs. While he could be a free agent this summer, his agent Sergei Berezin (yes, the former Toronto Maple Leafs forward) told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun his client wants to stay in Montreal.
“I can’t say much, we agreed not to say much, but talks are ongoing and Andrei wants to stay in Montreal,” agent Sergei Berezin said. “We’ll see where it goes. He’s played 13 seasons with Montreal. He wants to finish his career in Montreal.”
This isn’t a new revelation for Markov. He said he wanted to finish his career there back in January and nothing has changed on that front.
Of course, it takes two to make a thing go right and getting the contract figured out is Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s job. The Habs reportedly made a one-year, $6 million offer to him, but he’s looking for more years. At his age and with his injury history, that’s a dicey prospect.
The Montreal Canadiens would like to keep defenseman Andrei Markov once his current contract expires this summer, but they’re not eager to risk inking him to a multi-year deal.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has extended a one-year, $6 million contract extension to the 35-year-old defenseman, according to TSN 690’s Tony Marinaro. That would represent a slight increase over his existing $5.75 million annual salary, but Markov is hoping for a three-year deal.
Markov remains a top-tier offensive defenseman and is particularly effective with the man advantage. He has 31 points in 59 contests this season and ranks 11th in the NHL with an average of 25:04 minutes per game.
He was just as good last season, but before that he played in only 65 games over three seasons due to knee injuries. Between his history and his age, it’s not hard to see why Montreal might view him as a risk.
Montreal also needs to re-sign defenseman P.K. Subban, who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent and is likely to command a massive salary after winning the Norris Trophy in 2013.
In his first day back on the job, John Tortorella is getting himself a new player.
The Canucks have acquired Montreal defenseman Raphael Diaz in exchange for forward Dale Weise, it was announced on Monday. For Vancouver, the move makes sense as the club has lost the services of Kevin Bieksa (undisclosed) until after the Olympic break, along with fellow blueliner Chris Tanev (broken thumb).
Diaz, 28, is a pending UFA making $1.225 million this season. The Swiss rearguard — he’ll be representing his country at the upcoming Olympics — has 11 points in 46 games this season, but has been in and out of Montreal’s crowded blueline mix (the Habs had nine defensemen on NHL contracts and some good young prospects in AHL Hamilton). Diaz had been a healthy scratch in seven of Montreal’s last 10 games.
He’s not the most physical rearguard in the league, but was one of only three Canadiens with at least 100 blocked shots — something that should fit Tortorella’s style well.
As for Weise, he’s spent the last three years in Vancouver carving a niche as a speedy, bottom-six checking forward that’s not afraid to fight. He showed some decent offensive upside this season — scoring a career-high 12 points in just 44 games — but, like Diaz, has been in and out of the lineup recently.
Weise, 25, is currently on a one-year, $750,000 deal. He’ll be a restricted free agent at season’s end.
“A young veteran with 162 games of experience at the NHL level, Weise is a winger with a physical style of play who brings additional toughness and grit to our group of forwards,” said Habs GM Marc Bergevin.
Earlier today reports surfaced that Colorado Avalanche forward P.A. Parenteau was on the trade market.
Now it looks like Colorado’s willingness to move him might have gotten serious.
The Avalanche were reportedly willing to ship Parenteau to Montreal in exchange for forward Rene Bourque, but the Canadiens rejected that offer, according to TVA Sports’ Louis Jean.
Both players are under contract through 2015-16 and Parenteau comes with a marginally higher annual cap hit at $4 million instead of roughly $3.3 million. Bourque enjoyed a few solid seasons with Calgary, but he’s struggled offensively since coming to Montreal. Parenteau has been far more productive, although he is projected to be a healthy scratch tonight.
It’s worth adding that Montreal’s assistant coach J.J. Daineault is very familiar with Parenteau after they both spent time with the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack.
This also isn’t the first report or only source to link Parenteau to Montreal. It has been suggested that Colorado is looking for a defensive upgrade and any deal between the two teams might ultimately involve one of Montreal’s blueliners.
Update: RDS’ Francois Gagnon’s sources suggested that it was the Avalanche who refused the player swap.