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Despite his NMC, Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom has an open mind about his future

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Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
When he reached free agency in the 2020 off-season, goaltender Jacob Markstrom had many teams interested in his services. Among them were the Calgary Flames, who inked the Swedish netminder to a six year deal. The new contract included a $6 million cap hit and a full no-move clause, essentially handing Markstrom a massive degree of control over where he would spend perhaps the final seasons of his career.
Three and a half years into his deal, in the middle of a strong 2023-24 campaign, Markstrom indicated to Sportsnet’s Eric Francis that it’s the Flames that control his fate.
Francis published a pretty lengthy one-on-one chat with Markstrom over at Sportsnet’s site on Wednesday. In the quotes published, Markstrom doesn’t really tip his hand one way or another. He gives the verbal equivalent of a shrug or a poker face.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Whatever direction they want to go, and what they want to do, I’m not going to force anything…
“I’m not going to go up and meet and ask for a trade either.
“I’m here to play, I’m enjoying every day and we’ve got a great group.”
The 34-year-old Markstrom has alternated between weaker and strong seasons during four campaigns with the Flames. While his 2020-21 and 2022-23 seasons weren’t stellar, he was the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy in 2021-22. So far in 31 appearances in 2023-24, he’s gone 16-13-2 with a .914 save percentage, 2.56 goals against average and two shutouts.
While the defensive group in front of him has experienced challenges – early on the club had to adapt to Ryan Huska’s new zone scheme, and later they had to adapt to a lot of injury absences – Markstrom has been a consistent difference-maker for his club. When judged by the Goals Saved Above Expected metric, which attempts to control for the quality of chances a team gives up, Markstrom is one of the league’s top goaltenders. (He’s the top goaltender by that statistic as measured by Evolving-Hockey. He’s in the top five for most analytics sites.)
Simply put, the Flames have a goaltender that can keep them in games, but they may currently lack the offensive firepower to win those games right now. That’s led some to wonder “Hey, if the Flames are going into a retool, maybe they should send Markstrom to a contender?” especially with two-time AHL goaltender of the year Dustin Wolf waiting in the wings.
Here’s what Elliotte Friedman noted about Markstrom in Tuesday’s 32 Thoughts:
Others to watch: I get mixed answers on Jacob Markstrom. It’s been mentioned to me several times — he doesn’t enjoy his name being out there, and Calgary is very, very sensitive to that. It’s got to be something the Flames can’t say no to, or a place Markstrom tells them he wants to go — which has not happened. Of course, that sounds like a negotiating ploy, but it’s the truth. Calgary’s preference is to leave him alone. He’s been very good. When that happens, business takes care of itself.
Nothing in Francis’ chat with Markstrom seems to run counter to Friedman’s intelligence on the matter. All indications from folks in the know are the Flames aren’t actively shopping Markstrom and haven’t pitched him on anything. Not yet.
For now, the concept of Markstrom being anything but a Calgary Flame for the remaining two and a half seasons on his contract is just that: theoretical. And one of Markstrom’s quotes in Francis’ piece seems to capture the unique nature of such a theoretical discussion becoming real.
“When they send an email that I’ve got to sign something to remove my no-move clause, then it’s a different conversation we’ve gotta have.”
You can check out Francis’ full conversation with Markstrom over at the Sportsnet site.
The Flames are back in action on Saturday when they visit the New York Islanders.

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