It looks as though Unrestricted Free Agent to-be, Andre Markov, injured his knee at the IIHF tournament. Despite the injury, Markov was named to the All-Tournament Team and was also named the tournament's Best Defenseman. He was replaced in the lineup by Konstantin Korneev, who was drafted 275th overall by the Habs in 2002.
Why an NHL'er who will be a UFA in line for a HUGE raise would play in this relatively meaningless tournament is beyond my comprehesion. It's not like it's the former Olympian's first opportunity to represent Russia in an international tournament. The guy just completed a gruelling 82-game season with the Habs. Take a break.
While I encouraged Komisarek and Higgins to play in this tournament in an earlier blog, I think they have a totally different situation than the Markov one. Neither of those guys have worn the Stars and Stripes before. Unlike Markov, they are only Restricted Free Agents, who are scheduled to get modest raises. Markov had a chance to get two NHL teams in a huge bidding-war for his services, while neither Komisarek or Higgins have a chance for that.
This injury could have numerous ramifications:
1) He has only a minor injury that will not require surgery. Contract negotiations continue without a hitch.
2) He has a serious injury, which will require surgery.
a) Assuming other teams will not be interested in signing him, he signs with the Habs for less than he would have if he did not get hurt. (This could actually be a blessing in disguise in terms of the Habs salary cap. The injury may also justify the Habs signing him to a 1-year deal, if Markov's agent would be agreeable to that. A 1-year deal would obviously be advantageous to the Habs. It would theoretically increase Markov's production this upcoming year and it would also help us determine if he is the same player post-injury. It would also buy us some time in terms of the salary cap. Huet's salary will be off the books at year's end, which should free up more money to sign Markov if we want to at year's end.)
b) Gainey is gun-shy because of the injury and does not sign Markov before July 1. Some other team throws a ton of cash his way despite the injury, and Markov signs with someone else.
c) Same scenario as 2b), except the Habs get in a bidding war and "win" it.
Which option sounds the best to you? More details to follow...
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