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Markov will play in NHL this season, agent says

40-year-old defenseman went to KHL in 2017 after 16 seasons with Canadiens @NHLdotcom

Andrei Markov will play in the NHL this season, his agent said Thursday.

"I'm very confident there will be a deal for him, and he'll play somewhere this year," Allan Walsh said during the Jonathan Drouin Golf Tournament at Le Club Laval-sur-le-Lac in Laval, Quebec.

Markov hired Walsh as his agent Wednesday.

"Things were busy yesterday," Walsh said. "Numerous teams called. They're asking questions about his conditioning, forwarded teams a bunch of videos of him training. There are people who have actually been out to see him skate in Florida and train."

The 40-year-old defenseman played the past two seasons for Kazan in the Kontinental Hockey League. He had 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 49 games last season.

Video: Andrei Markov pursuing return to NHL

Markov played the previous 16 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, who selected him in the sixth round (No. 162) of the 1998 NHL Draft. He had 572 points (119 goals, 453 assists) in 990 regular-season games and 32 points (five goals, 27 assists) in 89 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He played in the NHL All-Star Game in 2008 and 2009, and for Russia at the Olympics in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Walsh said Markov is seeking a one-year contract but could be open to playing longer.

"He loves the game and he loves to play," Walsh said. "As long as he feels he can contribute and make a difference, mentoring younger guys, helping out 5-on-5, contributing to a power play. We believe he still has a lot in the tank and a lot to offer. We'll see how it works out.

"At the end of the day he's still Andrei Markov, a gifted, skilled hockey player. I honestly believe he can help any team's power play right now."

Markov told the Montreal Gazette this month he was hoping to return to the Canadiens. He has 572 points, tied with Guy Lapointe for second among Canadiens defensemen behind Larry Robinson (883). And he's 10 games from becoming the sixth player to skate in 1,000 games for Montreal, joining Henri Richard (1,258), Robinson (1,202), Bob Gainey (1,160), Jean Beliveau (1,125) and Claude Provost (1,005).

"Andrei's made it very clear his heart is in Montreal, it always will be in Montreal," Walsh said. "He would love to finish his career in Montreal, would love to play his 1,000th game in a Canadiens jersey. Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't happen, we'll have to wait and see. More than that, he's 100 percent committed to playing in the NHL this year."

Walsh said about five or six teams reached out to him after he was announced as Markov's agent but he would not say if the Canadiens were one of them.

"He made it very clear to me he's open to playing for any team in the NHL, period," Walsh said. "It has to be a good fit, it has to be something that makes sense to him and makes sense to the team. It's going to take a team and Andrei together to come to a mutual understanding of what his role would be, what's expected of him, what the team needs from him. But there are 31 teams in the NHL and he's open to talking to every single one of them."

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