MARKOVAccording to, through four different contracts starting at 700-thousand for his rookie season, Andrei Markov has earned a total 48.325 million dollars since he started his career in 2000.  That’s a lot of money, even after the Quebec government took it’s hefty share in taxes.

Markov’s last two contracts have paid him 5.75 million for each of seven seasons and now he’s a free agent once again.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Monday that Markov’s agent Sergei Berezin is asking for a modest 250 thousand dollar raise to six million a year but he also wants a three year contract for his client.

This is a negotiation.  That means the player starts high, management starts low and, if successful there’s a middle ground each side thinks is fair and it’s settled.  Or not.

Even slowed somewhat by two major knee surgeries and age, Markov is still the Canadiens second best defenseman and the gap is very wide between number two and number three where we would have to place either Josh Gorges or Alexei Emelin.  Markov’s departure would leave a monstrous void.

Money is really not the issue here. The team could probably manage to fit even a six million dollar deal under their cap.   From the outset, this has always been about length of contract.

Marc Bergevin was not willing to go long term with Vincent Lecavalier and then, after Lecavalier opted for five years with the Flyers, turned to a two year deal with Daniel Briere.  The Flyers have a real case of buyer’s remorse over their Lecavalier deal.  The Canadiens can live with one more year under the Briere deal.

The Habs blue line future lies in the likes of  Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi.  They are 21 and 22 years old respectively and nowhere close to assuming a leadership role on defense.   Extending Markov would supply the breathing room to develop their top prospects properly.

So ultimately it becomes risk vs. reward.  All business.  There are many ways to make both sides comfortable.  The Canadiens might sweeten the financial pot a bit in return for a two year deal.  Markov may think playing in Montreal is worth giving up a little bit of long term security.

The sides have two weeks to figure it out.