Friday, October 2, 2009

Can Markov be replaced?

I've been pondering the question all day, and I've come to he conclusion that Andrei Markov cannot be replaced.

I'm not talking about his value to the Canadiens, his poise with the puck, his vision of the ice, his incredible ability to hold the offensive blueline, his magic on the power play or his underrated defensive instincts. No, those things could obviously not be replaced. Maybe one or two of those traits, but not the whole package.

But in a very literal sense, I was wondering if the NHL's Long-Term Injury Exception could be used by the Habs to bring in another body, a veteran defenceman to stem the tide until Markov returns, probably sometime in early February based on the worst-case figure of four months that was bandied about all day.

Even though I read that chapter of the Collective Bargaining Agreement about 1,000 times when Robert Lang had almost the very same thing happen to him last season, I decided to give it another look this evening, just to see if I had missed something.

I hadn't.

It very clearly states that if a player is declared to have a long-term injury and the team uses the exception provided to exceed the cap and acquire a replacement player, the team must get back under the cap once the injured player returns. Markov's $5.75 million salary would allow Bob Gainey to acquire just about anyone under the sun, except for a select few bad contracts, but the problem is what happens when Markov comes back four months from now.

Yes, there are teams looking to move defencemen. Chiacgo would probably jump at the chance to get rid of Cam Barker's $3.5 million salary this year and next. He only played a shade over 13 minutes in the Hawks shootout loss to the Panthers today, less than half the 28 minutes logged by both Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, so it would be fair to say he doesn't really have the confidence of the coaching staff there.

But let's say Gainey goes out and trades for him, uses the LTIR for Markov and he plays great in Montreal. What happens when Markov returns? Does Barker collect his salary in the minors? Does someone else?

Adrian Dater of the Denver Post speculated on the possibility of the Avs and Habs hooking up for a trade today, dangling the names of Ruslan Salei and Brett Clark as possible candidates to be brought in as a Markov replacement. The same argument applies here, except it's even more vigorous because neither Salei nor Clark are in the same league as Barker.

It just doesn't seem to be worth the headache to me, but I have to admit I don't really understand the full cap implications of an LTIR claim. But this could be a blessing in disguise for the Canadiens, as other defencemen will be able to assert themselves in what should become an open battle for ice time.

Jacques Martin was talking today as if this will be absorbed with the personnel in place, pumping up the play of Josh Gorges and Ryan O'Byrne while making comparisons to last year's Penguins and Devils missing Sergei Gonchar, Ryan Whitney and Martin Brodeur for most of the first half of the season.

Bob McKenzie at TSN says this will increase the pressure on Carey Price to perform, but I don't see it that way at all, simply because there couldn't possibly be more pressure on Price than there already is.

While Roman Hamrlik will slide into Markov's spot alongside countryman Jaroslav Spacek on Montreal's first pair, the real beneficiary of this is O'Byrne, who now becomes an official member of the Habs top-6. It provides him another opportunity to forget last year's step back and become a much needed physical presence for the team. That's a good thing, because if O'Byrne was bouncing in and out of the lineup all season, the one thing that needs the biggest rehab - his confidence - would be in a constant state of flux because of the day-to-day pressures of not knowing whether or not you'll play on a given night. Now he knows, let's see what he can do.

I'm pretty surprised not to have received an e-mail from the Habs yet as to the recall of Yannick Weber from Hamilton. I figured that would be a no-brainer, but there still hasn't been any announcement made.

I wrote earlier that the Markov injury basically ended the Habs season, and I still believe that a playoff spot is now more of a longshot. But maybe, just maybe, losing the team's best player will have a beneficial effect, and the team will still be in the hunt when Markov gets back, which would allow the team to peak at the perfect time.

You want optimism? Well there you go. But in reality, this news on Markov is literally the very worst thing that could have ever happened to the Habs.


pierre said...

Can Markov be replaced ?

Martin's system will be altered to compensate the loss of Markov when playing at evensthrenght....... hockey will not look as pretty as anticipated but they might be able to hold on the fort.

Nobody can dress a table better than Markov in PP situations..... who' s gona feed the perfect passes for Spacek's and Cammalleri's deadly one timers ? As good a passer as Tanguay is he failed last season when asked to play Markov's traditional rôle at the left side position..... Plekanec might be worth a try, would it worked Metropolit could then take care of the second wave's center rôle.

I believe we have an excellent quartet left for the first wave PP duties and I hope a descent replacement could come along to make things work for them....... saving the PP prowess would go along way in keeping us alive while Marcov is away.

jkr said...

I am not plugged in to the NHL as you are & I am surprised to hear that Barker might be available. He seemed to be playing a key part during the playoffs last year. Is it his play or the impending RFA status of players like Kane, Toews & Keith that make him available?

B B said...

There is another way to look at this...

Sometime around the Olympic break, the Montreal Canadiens add a top-flight defenceman to their roster as the boost their move toward a quality seed in the 2009-2010 playoffs. This player will add immediate impact. His name is Markov.

Ted said...

Good Morning Arpon,

Well the money they spent for Teen Ranch will never be recovered but the theme of team building has just taken on an entirely new dimension.

No doubt this is a severe blow but I think this early on its not a death blow. The team is still formulating and finding itself. In mid season this may be worse than it is now.

One can only live in hope!!
The worst thing ever was I had Markov in my fantasy pool.

V said...

What does not kill you makes you stronger. Markov going down gives the team the chance to learn how to win without him... imagine the confidence that will develop from that.

I read these doom and gloom scenarios people rush to paint (good to see you backing off slightly on yours Arpon) and I have to laugh a bit. People jumping in with their 6 bullet explanations for why this situation is a disaster.

The Markov situation is a management challenge - nothing more. People with their 6 bullet doom and gloom presentations are a dime a dozen in any company. Good companies with strong management take hits similar to this all the time and manage the impact... the Habs have a good coach and GM and I don't see any reason why they can't do the same.

Will Markov going down have an impact? Yes. Can it be managed. Yes? Well it be? That's what we are going to find out - I am optimistic given the talent in the organization.

Arpon Basu said...

Barker's availability is largely based on the financial mess the Hawks find themselves in with Kane and Toews to re-sign. A $3.5 million contract for a guy playing on your third pairing is not realistic for a team like Chicago. Plus, throw in the fact Sergei K. played with Kane in junior and would likely get an endorsement from him, plus that the Hawks would probably love to get Halak as insurance for Huet, and there you go. But, as I worte, I don't think it would be worth the trouble of dealing with the cap issues when Markov returns. If he was done for the season, it would be an entirely different scenario.

Kibbles said...

Actually, Barker's contract would be perfect for this year. You see, if Markov is on LTIR for half a season, the Habs can go 2.875 Million over the cap by the end of the year. The Habs have roughly 1 million in cap space right now, so they could definitely fit Barker in.

H.I.L.L. said...

I'm no capologist so I will steer clear of that. If he were done for the year, making a trade make sense. But because he will be back, I think they should try to replace him from within. If Carbo was still coach, we would be dead, but he is not. I'm sure Martin will find a way to adjust his PP schemes to make up for it. If there is one positive from this is that it is not his shot they would have to replace, so using a forward may be an option. Recall when he coached Ottawa, Alfredson was used on the point for PP. I would like to see them bring up Weber, use him as a forward on the 4th line and on the point during PP duties. As well if you use a forward you can still use Spacek on the 1st.

No question you can't replace him with just one player, but with a few adjustments, we can have a good PP. Also this will provide a secondary player like a Gorges a chance to move to the front. Or a call up like Weber Or PK a chance to prove they belong and should stay. I think we can still remain very much in the hunt. While we probably won`t lead the league in PP% 5 on 5 play will be key for us during these next few months. I repeat what I have been preaching here in the Land of the Leafs, that the hiring of Jacques Martin is going to be Gainey`s best move this summer. These next few months will prove that.

And like Ted I too just lost my office hockey pool, because he was in my team too.

pfhabs said...


-seems you and fellow poster Arjun are on a track that was discussed on Team 990 yesterday by P McGuire

-SK and Halak could be used to acquire Barker

-seems Chicago is not v happy w Huet and his predictable drop to the knees style and Halak could be their answer

-Chicago has a tremendous issue with the cap for next year. the cap is going down and Chicago has too many long term rich contracts putting them past the cap unless they use the bonus incentive boost. further both Toews and Kane are coming out of entry level contracts next year. a perfect financial storm

-Barker playing the minutes he does is too rich for Chicago at his cap hit and could be attained not because he's a problem player but his contract is a significant problem

-Kane has been demoted off of Toews line. Kane however had tremendous chemistry in London w SK and may re-find his touch if teamed with his former Knights linemate

-Barker is a big body, good first pass and a tremendous shot although a bit soft and not in the same league as Markov offensively but answers an immediate need with NHL experience.

-as for the cap hit someone will can traded or demoted to hammy to get back under the cap when Markov returns after the Olympics or as injuries continue as they normally do the cap may not be an issue. CH also have $600k in cap space w/o bonus incentives invoked and $1.9 if invoked...(not sure how mauch of the $1.3 bonus is attributed to SK's contract...if any it would be deducted once he is traded)

-it seems to be a win-win scenario and short of Weber being than hidden NHL gem they need an acquisition

-my fear is that they will overpay significantly much like they did for Gomez and for a short term gain will sacrifice a major prospect

-as for all that kum-bye-ya circling the wagons and character will take them through it, rah rah rah 'stuff'- nice concept on paper but not realistic. points lost in October and November can cost you a playoff position and all the touchie feelie platitudes don't count in the standings..its pro sports, its scoreboard not social engineering

Anonymous said...

What about M-A Bergeron? He is a UFA, had 14 goals last year, smooth skater and good puck distributer. Liability in his own end perhaps, but if paired with Mara, they could balance each other well. Obviously he isn't in the same league as Markov, but he certainly wouldn't hurt the powerplay...

Anonymous said...

And he would be light on the cap

cecil said...

There are a few people able to help here. Barker is one but also hamhuis in Nashville and also they could get Beauchemin out of Toronto for a couple of yougsters like Pacioretty as Toronto needs forwards and it could give them the overall help in the long run. I don't think Bob Gainey is a good as everyone believes he seams to me to be a French Canadien hater and in Montreal you need a French player who is a leader there is no one here. He had chances to pick both Bergeron and Brassard at there drafts and picked others who are not helping. Also if he decided that the leaders of last year where not going to be here this year why not get rid of them for players to help. For this team is a laugh.......

pfhabs said...

cher Cecil:

-les Canadiens have been looking for a power forward since the days of Mike McPhee. Gui is not the answer but Max Pacioretty is. Gainey would be an idiot to trade Pacioretty for a short term fix. btw Beauchemin is not available..Gainey lost his chance to sign him...a mistake in my book

-as for whom the Canadiens have drafted perhaps Michel Bergeron, Jean-Charles Lajoie, Jean Perron, Bertrand Raymond and tout le gang who bitch continually over the number of francophones on this team should realize a few things:

1. under Trevor Timmins the Canadiens have the 3rd best system of propects in the NHL as evaluated by the other 29 NHL teams and reported by the Hockey News

2. the number of NHL capable players coming from the Q has been on the decline in recent years

3. they drafted Louis LeBlanc 1st overall, they signed Philippe Lefebrye as a FA from Drummondville, Danny Masse was another FA they signed last spring and there are others like Desharnais including the entire staff in Hamilton and Jacques Martin comme entrainer chef

4. leadership, hockey ability and winning Stanely Cups are NOT ethnic nor language dependant. the argument to the contrary c'est fatigant (is tiring)

Anonymous said...

Can Markov be replaced? No he can't. He's easily one of the league's elite defensemen. Will his injury singlehandedly keep the habs from a playoff spot? No, that's just being dramatic. The Canadiens have good depth on defense and they will survive until Markov is healthy again. In the end he will be hitting game shape exactly when the Canadiens need him to build momentum during the playoff race. It's a good opportunity for younger players to prove their worth. This will benefit the team long term. 4 months still stings though.

Cabin 3

pfhabs said...

you do not throw young players; ie, weber and subban to the wolves and expect them to flourish. weber with 2 games of NHL experience will do good to keep his head above water and pk has no business in the NHL at this point in his career

i find it amusing to hear that markov is an elite D man (which he is) but a young inexperienced player or a junior can replace him as the #1 D man, leader on PP and on PK and play 25+ hard minutes.