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Andrei Markov signs deal in Montreal

Andrei Markov is staying in Montreal after signing a $23-million (17.1-million EUR), four-year deal with the Canadiens on Monday.

Markov was fourth in team scoring this season, second among the National Hockey League club's defensemen with six goals and 43 assists in 77 games. The 29-year-old was due to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"Andrei Markov is one of our best players, and a huge part of our hockey team," Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey said in a statement. "We drafted and developed a player who has become an elite defenseman in the NHL. His desire to remain a member of the Canadiens' organization was evident, and today we are very pleased to have a long-term agreement with Andrei."

The 28-year-old Markov began his pro career with his hometown club of Voskresensk Khimik in 1995, moved to Dynamo of Moscow three years later and then transferred to the NHL.

In 411 games with Montreal, the Russian has 46 goals and 161 assists.

Markov was selected with the 162nd pick in the 2000 NHL entry draft by the Canadiens. He has played for Russia at four World Championships, two world junior championships and the 2006 Winter Olympics.