Here’s the bad news: Markov is done for the year. He will undergo surgery on Wednesday for the second time in as many seasons on his knee. Markov had been the team’s best player throughout many seasons – and the Habs record without him (until this year) has been dismal.
The good news: This season the Habs have played fantastically through Markov’s absences. This was a team that looked at Andrei Markov as a fantastic addition to a team that already knew how to play together. His presence on the blue line will be missed – but for the first time in a long time – it will not be a fatal blow to this team.
The inevitable question is what to do with the cap-space that will result in Markov’s long term IR? The Habs will gain a considerable amount of Markov’s cap hit back (between 4 and 4.5M) which would go an awful long way towards bringing an impact player in return. So what do we need?
Top 6 Winger? The Habs could surely use someone who produces points in the lineup. The one knock on the team throughout the start of the year has been their inability to really put the puck in the net. They could absolutely use a big, skilled forward to compliment their top 6. Travis Moen is a hard worker – but he would be far more effective in the bottom 6 role that he is built for. That said – Eller, Pouliot and company have done an admirable job of supporting the top lines with timely scoring and great puck possession. Finally, there is always a call-up of Max Pacioretti (who is on fire in the AHL right now) or one of his Hamilton contemporaries.
Another Defender? The Habs are notoriously small on defense. Except they’re not. Picard, Hamrlik and Gill are large men each. Gorges and Subban play much bigger than they are, and Spacek has raised his game of late. Its hard to knock a group that has given up a only 2 goals per game on average through 26 games (second only to Boston’s 1.95 through 24). Sure we could use another Defender – the wear and tear on the old guys will take its toll, but is that a role that could be filled by a committee of young guys like Picard, Weber and Subban? Weber looked good against the admittedly terrible Devils.
We all know Montreal’s goal-tending situation is locked up for two years, and beyond in Carey Price. I won’t go there. Until we see more of Alex Auld – it’s hard to argue that the Canadiens need to tinker with their goalie situation.
So what do you do? PG could wait. There is no reason to make a desperation move since the team has played without Markov for all but 7 games this season. Fans tend to be trigger happy – but the Canadiens have a tricky, and potentially critical decision to make.
Oh yeah… Matinee versus the Sharks.
Go Habs Go!!!!!