When Karl Alzner signed a five-year, $23.1 million contract to play with the Montreal Canadiens we immediately penciled him into a defence pairing with Jeff Petry.

We figured it would make for the smoothest transition for Alzner, who skated regularly alongside John Carlson over the last number of years with the Washington Capitals. Carlson and Petry are both agile, right-handed puck-movers who have the ability to drive the offence and benefit from having a defensive anchor as a partner to cover them.

And in fairness, it’s worth mentioning that part of the reason we had Alzner matched up with Petry on the first day of July was because we assumed it was a formality that Andrei Markov would return to play alongside Shea Weber on the Canadiens’ first pairing. It wasn’t much of a leap to assume the marquee free-agent wasn’t signed to a big-money contract to play on the team’s bottom pair.

But even when Markov spurned Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin’s final offer in order to return to Russia after spending the last 16 seasons in the NHL, placing Alzner with Petry still felt like a likely combination.