Every single day that passes without the signing of Andrei Markov, fans of the Montreal Canadiens start to turn internally to see why Bergevin is so audacious in his choice to not even reach out to Markov (though I guess we have no idea if he has reached out since Radulov darted).
As I’ve said for the last 3 days, Karl Alzner is much better suited to be the partner of Jeff Petry, as both should be complements to each other’s preferred playing styles. If Alzner can prove to be effective in covering for the risks that Petry takes, Emelin’s highlight reel checks will be forgotten in a heartbeat. But this does absolutely nothing to fix the conundrum of who will play next to the new general, Shea Weber.
Weber and Petry would work well together, but they both prefer to play on the right, so that’s out. Weber and Alzner could potentially work, but as stated earlier, I’d much prefer to see Alzner with Petry. Schlemko and Benn are known commodities and are at home on the third pair; no point in even going there. This essentially leave Joe Morrow and Jakub Jerabek as the potential partners for Weber? Allow me to say “What the hell Marc?!”
Everything I’ve read about Joe Morrow says that this is likely to be the seventh defender on the club, and that he can spot some rest for Schlemko and Benn when they need a breather, but that type of potential surely does not add up to the player that the organization wants to see sitting on the top-pairing next to Shea. This leave Jakub Jerabek. From what I’ve heard, Jerabek has an excellent first-pass and vision on the ice. He’s defensively sound if unspectacular defensively. He projects as a top-4 defender who doesn’t shoot often enough, which would certainly seem to fit next to Shea Weber.
Even though Jerabek projects favourably, placing him next to Shea Weber might not be the best way for the player to find success in his first stint in the NHL. I mean, would anyone have wanted October’s Arturri Lehkonen playing on a line with Radulov and Galchenyuk? Lehkonen was clearly intelligent from the start, but he was a step behind the play which is why he didn’t start to produce until later in the season. Placing Jerabek in a situation where he must face the opposition’s best on a nightly basis is a recipe for Jiri Sekac 2.0 as opposed to the Lehkonen 2.0 The Canadiens are hoping this player becomes.
Alas, unless Bergevin signs Markov, there really is no other solution to this outside of Jerabek. Bergevin is placing incredible pressure, in a market already filled with pressure, on a kid who is 26 and is likely to be the equivalent of a deer in headlights for most of October. Every day that Markov goes unsigned, Jerabek needs to realize the amount of pressure he will face to be effective out of the gate. Let’s hope the youngster has some thick skin and a quick learning curve if this really is the plan.
Add these points to the growing list of reasons why Bergevin should swallow his pride, step up, and pay Andrei Markov for the next two seasons, before another team swoops in and pays him. Once that happens, the only thing left will be to get your PR staff whining about the fact that you had the same offer on the table days ago. And let’s face it, how many times is the fan base supposed to hear this before they start questioning its validity? About as often as the fact that a player isn’t popular in the room?