After spending the past two seasons playing in the KHL, veteran defender Andrei Markov is looking to make a return to the NHL this season.
Markov, 40, is 10 games away from his 1,000th in the NHL and it has been reported that his first preference would be to again play for the Montreal Canadiens, the only team he ever played for in the NHL.
The feeling is apparently not mutual.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin told Canada’s RDS on Saturday that a lot of things have changed since they offered Markov a contract two years ago.
“Two years ago, his contract was due, we made an offer. Efforts were made to sign it and he chose another direction that was KHL. It was two years ago.
“Since that time, things have changed. The player has aged. The organization has changed direction. We have a lot of young people growing up. I will name them. The (Noah) Juulsen, the (Victor) Mete, the (Josh) Brook … (Alexander) Romanov, who will be here in a year. Then, we really want to give our young people a chance.”
Markov did not have agent at the time of those negotiations, but has since hired Allan Walsh to represent him in his return attempt. Walsh said back in August that at least five teams have checked in and that Markov is willing to play anywhere on what would likely be a one-year deal.
Markov last played for the Canadiens during the 2016-17 season, recording 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) in 62 games. At his peak he was an outstanding player on the Canadiens’ blue line, but had a good chunk of his career wiped out by injury between 2009 and 2012. He was able to bounce back from that by appearing in all but two games between the 2012-13 and 2015-16 seasons. In 990 games he has scored 119 goals to go with 453 assists (572 total points).
The Canadiens’ defense definitely has some flaws in the short-term, but it’s hard to build a convincing argument that a 40-year-old defender two years removed from the NHL would make a significant impact. So Bergevin’s position is certainly understandable.
Overall it has been a quiet offseason for the Canadiens as they are returning mostly the same roster that fell short of the playoffs a year ago. They did make an effort to sign Sebastian Aho as a restricted free agent away from the Montreal Canadiens, but the offer was easily matched.