‘It’s like the awkward high school dance’: Elliotte Friedman talks Jacob Markstrom and Devils on most recent 32 Thoughts.

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
5 months ago
Very rarely do any of us get taken back to our weird, puberty-filled high school years. It’s a time that most of us would be more than happy to forget. However, in the most recent edition of the 32 Thoughts podcast, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman brought everyone back to their awkward school dance days in reference to the New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames’ relationship over goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
“It’s like the awkward high school dance,” Friedman said. “Boy sees girl; boy wants to dance with girl; boy is kind of shy; girl wants to dance with boy; girl says, ‘I wish this guy would ask me already,’ and eventually you get there. I think the Devils and the Flames have been awkwardly looking at each other.”
When you’re playing as well as Markstrom is right now, there are bound to be teams calling about whether or not your services are available, especially considering the Swedish goaltender mostly left the decision up to the Calgary front office. Goalies that can make saves like this just don’t appear often.
If the Flames were to trade with the Devils, they would be retaining salary, which has only happened one time before (and I’m sure most Flames fans have been reminded of it ad nauseam as this process moves along), with David Rittich moving to Toronto. However, retaining 50% salary on the final year of a $2.75 million contract is much different than retaining that percentage on a $6 million deal with two more full seasons remaining.
Friedman talked about salary retention being the biggest hold-up out of any of the factors.
“I think the surest predictor of future events is past events, so teams know that the Flames are not crazy about [retaining salary],” Friedman said. “I do believe that is a major hurdle and was probably THE major hurdle. I think they were closer on [the package]. It wasn’t perfect, but I heard the retention was the much bigger problem.”
Friedman also talked about what the Devils are doing now that the trade did not come to fruition. Markstrom is a hot commodity to teams looking for insurance in the blue paint, so would the Devils still be willing to try and put a deal together after this one fell apart (and sounded like the two sides were far apart on the salary retention figure)?
“I had people telling me it’s falling apart, it’s over, but I don’t know that,” Friedman said. “I don’t like to say that because I’ve learned in this business that just because something is true one day doesn’t mean it’s true the next day. But I do think the Devils are looking at other possibilities now. I think they’re looking at guys with term. I was told this was a real, legit attempt at Markstrom.”
Friedman also remarked that he’s not sure if the trade ever made its way to Markstrom, as the goaltender would have to approve the move, but there was a “real serious try” between the two teams.
It’s hard to doubt that Markstrom is playing some of the best hockey as a Flame and his career at this point, so if the Flames were to move on from him, they would get a massive haul in return. However, considering how well the entire team is playing, too, it’s hard to tell what the ramifications could be for moving your star goalie and a coveted member of the locker room. There is still plenty of time left to make a decision, as well, so keep waiting for the right offer and the cards will fall as they will.

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