I am going to suggest an almost sacrilegious idea about Markov's future. Given the Hab's respective needs and their strengths, maybe they should pass on resigning Markov, as hard as that would be, and use the money to try and hold onto Vanek? (I would also say dropping the contracts of Gionta, Murray and Bouillon would help a bit too in that direction).
Yes, Vanek wants more money and a longer term and I worry about contracts that take a player past 34 years of age or so but the Habs needs are more offensive than defensive. If MT (yes, admittedly a big if) can finally get used to playing the younger players on defense then next year the defense is:
Subban, Georges, Tinordi, Belieau, Weaver, Pateryn, which is still a good to very good skating unit with allot of energy. A seventh, cheap defenseman could be found in free agency (maybe even Diaz?!). They couldn't do worse than Murray and Nygren is also an option, although the Habs might worry about denuding the Bulldogs of most of their competent defensemen.
But right now the Habs have much less offensive talent both on the big team and in the pipelines especially when you compare it to the developed talent on the blue line. I also worry about overpaying a defenseman who is playing on surgically repaired knees in his age 35-38 seasons. Markov has played marvelously for the Habs over the years and has met all expectations in this last contract. However that being said, even without his injury history, athletic performance will inevitably decline as he ages. He has represented the Habs as well as any player from their long history, but right now the Habs needs are on offense much more than defense and a player like Vanek rarely comes into the Hab's hands (especially in the last 20 years or so). Obviously the size and length of a future Vanek contract is a worry, but there should be good value for the next 3-4 years at least.
The Habs do have some intriguing younger offensive prospects but will any of them guarantee the rate of return that Vanek can provide especially in the near future? And think what it would be like to have a line of something like Desharnais, Paciorety and Vanek together for all season? Something to at least consider, at least until we see how things go in the playoffs.