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Andrei Markov to return to Russia to play in KHL

You can mark off Andrei Markov as a potential training camp tryout. Markov said he talked to a few NHL organizations during the free agency period but has elected to move back to Russia to play in the KHL.  

“I couldn’t see myself playing with any other NHL teams,” Markov said Thursday afternoon during a conference call. 

The Canadiens on Thursday bid farewell to Markov, who spent the past 16 seasons with Montreal, the only NHL team the defenseman has ever played for.  

According to reports, Markov, who turns 39 in December, was believed to be seeking a two-year contract in the $6 million per season range, but was willing to settle for one year to stay in Montreal. However, the Canadiens elected to go considerably cheaper in signing former Flyers defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year deal worth a reported $700,000.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall had shot down previous reports the Flyers were the only team negotiating with Markov during free agency.

“No. That’s not true. Don’t believe everything you hear,” Hextall said after returning from the NHL draft.

However, Hextall also made it clear he’s considering bringing in a veteran defenseman on a camp tryout as a backup in case one of the younger defensive prospects may not be ready to start the season at the NHL level. Had Markov been willing to come in on a tryout basis, the Flyers would have been interested.

With Markov’s decision and the recent signings of Streit and Johnny Oduya committing to the Senators, the prospective free-agent pool of defensemen is beginning to thin out with Francois Beauchemin, Dennis Wideman and Cody Franson as veteran blueliners still looking for a job for next season.