Markov represents Montreal’s other pricey extension

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The Montreal Canadiens spared little expense when it came to locking up crucial defensemen this offseason, yet it’s easy to see why they decided to roll the dice. At least, that certainly seemed to be the case regarding the expensive extensions they inked with P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov.

Naturally, Markov’s price tag doesn’t seem so staggering compared to Subban’s stunning $9 million cap hit, but the 35-year-old is a couple injuries and/or slumps away from drawing serious heat to his three-year, $17.25 million extension.

Considering some struggles in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, that price tag probably would have looked foolish just a summer ago, especially when you combine the inherent risks of a 35+ deal with the veteran blueliner’s unlucky injury history. Still, when you consider Habs Eyes on the Prize’s take on Markov’s most recent year, this deal might just be a bargain (or at least a necessary evil):

Taking into account the tough minutes that Markov was assigned this year, the amount he played, and his age, it’s hard to believe he was able to put up the season he did. Replacing a player of his caliber is essentially impossible, and if Therrien wisely decreases his minutes a couple shifts per game, he’s likely to be fresher and put up better results.

There is almost no way to argue that the Habs aren’t getting fair value here, no matter what deficiencies you think Markov might have in regards to speed. If you look at other defenseman playing at his level at around the same age in Dan Boyle, Kimmo Timonen, or even Sergei Gonchar and Stephane Robidas, 39 seems to be the age where the big drop off happens, and that’s an age the Canadiens don’t have to worry about with this contract.

Both Markov and especially Subban will face significant pressure stemming from the justifiable-yet-undeniable risks that come with their contract extensions, but that doesn’t mean that Montreal GM Marc Bergevin made illogical decisions in either case.

Don’t expect anything but venomous, hindsight-fueled criticisms if Markov’s deal proves to be a flop, though.

Canadiens’ Bozon back on ice

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After suffering from meningitis and being placed in a medically induced coma in March, Montreal Canadiens prospect Tim Bozon is back where he wants to be, on the ice.

It’s been a long summer for Bozon, who told the Montreal Gazette recently that he had “to do two times more than normal” in order to prepare for the upcoming hockey season.

Bozon spent four weeks in a Saskatoon hospital, then returned home to France where spent another three weeks at a rehab center working on things such as his speech.

“I didn’t see the time go by with all that I did every day,” Bozon told the Gazette of his summer, which has flown by. “I live near the beach and I didn’t go once. So it’s a lot of sacrifices like that. But that’s what had to be done if I wanted to continue to hope and live my dream.”

His hard work paid off as last month as Bozon suited up for France at an Under-23 tournament in the Czech Republic.

Originally a third-round pick of the Habs’ in 2012, Bozon fully expects to be at the team’s rookie camp next month.

The toughest part of Bozon’s summer has been to recover the nearly 40 pounds he lost while in sick, but thanks to his dedication in the gym Bozon is now back to 194 pounds, just five pounds shy of his playing weight of last season.

As for what’s next?

“I just want to be the player I was — even better — have a big season then and see what happens,” Bozon said.

Bozon has one year of junior hockey eligibility left, which means he will likely return to Kootenay of the WHL where in 50 games last season the 20-year-old scored 30 goals and 62 points. There is a chance he could make the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, as well.

Related: Bozon’s condition to improve, but he still ‘faces a long recovery’

Subban: Sticking with Montreal ‘wasn’t about the dollar signs’

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P.K. Subban insists that contract negotiations and the salary arbitration process weren’t personal. Instead, his latest talks with the Montreal Canadiens were “educational.”

(Others would use words like “profitable” being that the end result was an eight-year, $72 million blockbuster.)

As much as hearings can leave emotional bruises, the 25-year-old defenseman sounds excited to remain with the Canadiens and emphatically stated that there are no hard feelings on his end. He said that staying with Montreal is all he ever “really wanted.”

“It wasn’t about the dollar signs,” Subban said. “Listen, If I could do a 20-year contract with Montreal, I would.”

Subban joked that he wanted a long-term deal before he “deserved one.” He also showed quite a bit of savvy about what goes into contract negotiations, mentioning projections of salary cap increases related to TV deals and other factors. He even said all the right things about learning things from the more judgmental part of the arbitration process.

Maybe most importantly, he emphasized that he believes that his relationship with GM Marc Bergevin, head coach Michel Therrien and team president Geoff Molson remains strong.

“I think it’s a strong commitment … It sends a strong message to me that they want me here and appreciate everything that I’ve done to this point. They believe in me as a player,” Subban said. “People don’t have to speculate about how the Montreal Canadiens feel about me.”

As much as Subban said all the right things, he didn’t confirm or deny the existence of a no-movement or no-trade clause, stating that he’s leaving those kind of details to his agent Don Meehan.

With the contract talk out of the way, people can get back to what really matters: wondering if he’s worth what he’s currently getting paid.

While Subban isn’t talking contract, he wants to be a Montreal ‘lifer’

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P.K. Subban still hasn’t re-signed with the Montreal Canadiens and while he wasn’t eager to discuss how contract talks were going on Saturday, he wants to be a Hab for a long time.

As NHL.com shared, Subban appeared on a Toronto morning TV show last week and discussed his thoughts on playing in Montreal and what he eventually wants to become of his time there.

“Obviously I remain adamant on remaining in Montreal and being a Montreal Canadien, and not just for a long time but hopefully for the rest of my career, and be a lifer there,” Subban told Breakfast Television in Toronto. “I really enjoy playing there.”

We understand it’s sexier to think about what it might be like if Subban’s negotiations go wrong and he becomes the hottest commodity on the market in a long time. That said, it’s almost crazy to think both sides won’t get a lucrative long-term deal worked out before they’re due in court for arbitration on Friday.

Subban has won a Norris Trophy already and at 25 years old, he’s about to enter his prime. That means there’s more successes to be had and even more excitement down the road for a player who has quickly become the face of the Canadiens franchise. If he doesn’t become a Hab for life, that would be the most shocking turn of events.

Gorges still can’t explain falling out of favor in Montreal

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To hear him tell it, Josh Gorges has yet to hear a legit reason why the Canadiens traded him away.

“I wish I had a really good answer — where this came from and why, and how it came about — but I don’t, to be honest,” Gorges told the Kelowna Courier, just weeks after getting dealt to Buffalo. “It was a shock to me.”

Gorges, 29, was at the center of a whirlwind scenario near the end of June, when his name popped up — seemingly out out of nowhere — in a flurry of trade rumors. His name first surfaced on the eve of free agency when reports revealed he’d been dangled by Montreal in a proposed move to Toronto, only for Gorges to reject the move as part of his no-trade clause.

Eventually, he accepted a deal to Buffalo.

Deeply disappointed” by what transpired, Gorges — signed through 2017-18 for a cap hit of $3.9 million — said he “never wanted to leave Montreal,” adding “in no way has this been my decision.”

But it’s that cap number that could’ve played him out of town. Signed by ex-GM Pierre Gauthier, Gorges (and his contract) were inherited by current GM Marc Bergevin, who’s currently in the midst of a dicey financial summer — yesterday, he avoided arbitration with RFA Lars Eller by inking the forward to a four-year, $14 million deal; now, Bergevin must sort out negotiations with franchise defenseman P.K. Subban, which will undoubtedly be pricey.

By shedding Gorges’ cap hit, Bergevin also freed up money for the future. Next year, young forwards Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher are RFAs, as are promising defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu.

But either that message wasn’t relayed to Gorges, or he wasn’t buying it.

“Not really,” Gorges said when asked if he got a satisfactory explanation for what transpired. “To be honest, I don’t need one or want one. It doesn’t do me any good, it doesn’t do my family any good.

“The thing for us is to look ahead, look to the future and what’s in front of us.”