MONTREAL — Andrei Markov is staying with the Canadiens.
The 35-year-old defenseman agreed to terms on a three-year, $17.25 million contract extension with Montreal on Monday. Markov was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“I knew before the season was over I’d like to stay with the Montreal Canadiens, so I’m happy the deal was done and I’m looking forward now,” Markov said. “I feel like I’m at home here. I feel comfortable. I’d like to stay for the rest of my career. I’ve never known (free agency), but it doesn’t matter. I’m happy with that deal.”
Markov will earn the same salary, $5.75 million per season, that he made in each of his past two contracts over the past seven years. As a player 35 or over, he is guaranteed the full amount of his new deal.
“We are very happy to have secured a long-term agreement with Andrei,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said. “He is an important part of our group of core players.
“He is healthy, shows a very good work ethic and has great leadership skills. He plays big minutes against the top opponents, and game-changing defensemen of his caliber are hard to find.”
Markov will be 38 when the deal expires after the 2016-17 season, but he believes it’s too early to say if it will be his last contract. There were concerns that Markov’s career was over when a succession of knee injuries limited him to just 65 games over three years from 2009-10 to 2011-12, but he played all 48 games of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season and missed only one regular-season game this past season.
Markov had seven goals and 36 assists and was plus-12 this season, while getting a team-high 25:14 of ice time per game. He added a goal and nine assists in 17 playoff games, and also played for Russia at the Sochi Olympics. While he has slowed in recent years, he combines a solid defensive game with first-rate passing and play-making skills from the point on power plays.