There comes a time in every GM’s tenure where they must put their bias towards veteran players aside and determine what would be best for the team presently and for the future. When you fall in love with certain players without regards for the team’s overall salary cap, similar to that of Dustin Brown’s 8 year 47 million dollar contract issued by the Los Angeles Kings, major problems can arise. The Kings were coming off their 2nd Stanley Cup in 3 years when their long time Captain, Dustin Brown, was about to become an unrestricted free agent. Then GM, Dean Lombardi, whether it was without awareness for the team’s future, or his favoritism to his then Captain issued out what is currently one of the worst contract in the NHL today. By resigning Brown with a cap hit of $5,875,000 for each of the next 8 years, Lombardi basically cap restricted the Kings for the foreseeable future.
There will be 2 big decision on Marc Bergevin’s mind this coming week as we approach the July 1st free agency period. Reports today from TVA’s Hockey Analyst Renaud Lavoie indicated that long time Canadien Andrei Markov is currently looking for a 2 year contract. Ideally for a 39 year old defenseman, I would be hesitant to give the Canadiens’ veteran rear guard of the past 17 years a multi year contract. Ideally Markov should be resigned on a year to year basis. However with the lost of Alexei Emelin, Nathan Beaulieu, and the supposed Markov’s future replacement Mikhail Sergachev this off-season, it’s not if the Habs have a replacement in line on the left side to replace Markov. Markov might be rising in age but he has yet to show any decline in his game. Coming off an impressive 36 point season, there seems to be gas left in the tank for the longest serving Canadien. As long as Claude Julien and his staff manage Markov’s minutes for the length of his contract, I have no issue giving Markov his desired 2 year contract. It won’t be for the same cap hit of $5,750,000 but I could see something around $4,250,000, the same amount of money Markov made last season.
Now the question remains whether or not to give Alex Radulov the length of term he is seeking. TSN and ESPN Analyst Pierre Lebrun reported last week that Radulov is currently seeking a 6 year contract at $7,000,000. There is no question that Radulov was one of the Habs’ best player last season, which included a highlight reel goal in the playoffs against the Rangers. However, there remains question marks still for the savvy Russian. Radulov is currently 30 years old and is no doubt looking at a long term contract, which could very well be his last contract in the NHL. But for a player that is only coming off 1 year in the NHL and has never reached either the 30 goal mark or the 60 point plateau, that is somewhat a lengthy term to give. Honestly, I have no problem with the amount of money, as we have seen players with lesser skill than Radulov go for around the same amount. But that 6 years does pop a debate. Is Bergevin willing to go that long for a player that had fewer goals than Paul Byron last year? That said, pre-TJ Oshie resigning in Washington for 8 years, I would have said to maybe let Radulov walk and go after Oshie on July 1st. But with Oshie now off the market, and unless Bergevin can pull something out his sleeve and acquire more offensive talent, like a Matt Duchene, it all but seems a must to get Radulov resigned. Even with the acquisition of Drouin last week, the Canadiens are an offensively challenged team. By adding Drouin but losing Radulov, and potentially Alex Galchenyuk, Bergevin doesn’t really address his number one need this off season, goals. It will be a tough pill to swallow, but I believe both side will cave a bit and a contract somewhere between $7,000,000 for 5 years will be sign before the free agent market opens.
The Canadiens current needs situates around a number one centre, offense in their top 6 and a left side defenseman. By resigning both Markov and Radulov, Bergevin could address two of his three glaring needs. The number one centre that has eluded the Canadiens for decades may be a harder feet to obtain. There will be some tough decisions and long sleepless nights ahead for Bergevin this week. Lets hope he works his magic and get these two sign at a reasonable cap hit.