We’re told Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier is going to sit down with super agent Don Meehan in the next couple of weeks. The subject – Andrei Markov’s future with the Canadiens..
There is no question that, when healthy, Markov was worth every cent of the 5.75 million annual dollars he was paid over the last four years.
The operative words are “when healthy”. The last two years Markov played in only 52 of 164 regular season games. (See Markov Injury History Below)
Here’s the way we imagine the conversation between Gauthier and Meehan might go.
Gauthier – Let’s be blunt Don. Your client suffered three major knee injuries over eleven months. One could easily come to the conclusion that he’s become injury prone.
Meehan – You can take that approach if you like. But don’t forget in the five seasons prior to 2009 he played in 94% of the Canadiens games.
Gauthier – Still, he had major knee surgery in December. The Canadiens are being asked to take a big risk.
Meehan – You know Dr. Andrews success rate in this kind of surgery. Obviously you have confidence in him. You also sent Josh Gorges to him for the same procedure.
Gauthier – Agreed. But Gorges is a restricted free agent. I’m not being asked to gamble five or six million salary cap dollars on Josh at this stage in his career. Markov’s game is based on mobility and speed. Will all of that return after an operation like that?
Meehan – All you have to do is look inside your own house. James Wisniewski underwent reconstructive knee surgery three years ago. He’s missed five games due to injury since, none of it involving a knee. If anything, his play improved.
Gauthier – Assuming we’re prepared to take the risk, what kind of contract are you looking for?
Meehan – My client is one of the league’s top-ten defensemen. Among the veterans, Chara gets 7.5 million;
Boyle 6.6 million; Lidstrom 6.2 million; Rafalski 6-million; Visnovsky 5.6 million. I think we should be in that ballpark.
Gauthier – I can agree he has been in the top ten. But there’s still the question of his comeback. He’s skating now, but we have no idea whether he’ll be as good as he was two years ago. How about one year at the same money and we’ll evaluate him at the end of next season?
Meehan – If you want a one-year contract you’re going to have to pay. One year – seven million.
Gauthier – What about two years?
Meehan – 6.5 million dollars per. No trade clause until February 2013. My client is only 32 years old. He’s taken out Canadian citizenship. He loves playing in Montreal but he’s not prepared to give up millions to stay there. He has options, not only the NHL; a KHL team would gladly pay major money for him.
Gauthier - Point taken. But I have to sign four other defensemen and a salary cap to abide by. 6.5 million would cripple my budget. Would you take three years at his current 5.75 million? Same money, except you drop the no-trade clause.
Meehan – How about no-trade for the first two years?
Gauthier – I can accept that. Take it to Andrei, see what he says.
The Markov Injury Card.
April 2, 2003 – Left knee sprain. Misses last two games of season.
January18, 2006 – Suffers rotator cuff injury to left shoulder. Misses eight games.
February 4, 2007 – Sprained MCL left knee. Missed three games.
April 4, 2009 – Left knee taken out on a check by Mikael Grabovski of Toronto. Missed last four regular season games and the four game playoff sweep by Boston.
Oct. 2, 2009 Opening Game of the season in Toronto – suffers a lacerated tendon in his ankle caused by Carey Price’s skate blade. Misses 35 games -returning to lineup December 19.
April 30, 2010 – Suffers torn ligament in right knee after being checked by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke in the first game of the Eastern Conference semi-final. Underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee May 19th. Miss rest of playoffs and first ten games of 2010-2011 season.
November 13, 2010 – Suffers injury to right knee when checked into boards by Carolina’s Eric Staal. Surgery to again repair the right knee’s ACL Dec. 8, 2010. Missed the rest of the season.