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Jacob Markstrom to Ottawa? Here’s how the Calgary Flames could make it happen

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
1 month ago
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It certainly does seem as though the Calgary Flames and Jacob Markstrom will end up parting ways this summer.
A few weeks ago, the potential resolution to the current situation didn’t look nearly as clear. For all we knew, it was more likely than not that Markstrom would end up happily taking part in the Flames’ 2024 training camp.
But now, things appear to be pointing in a different direction. We’ve heard a whole lot from a collection of different sources over the past few days suggesting that Markstrom would welcome a change of scenery — and that the Flames have been fielding calls from a variety of teams about their star goaltender.
On Sunday evening, Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch added another log to the fire. In a new Ottawa Citizen column, the Senators reporter indicated that Sens general manager Steve Staios has had “several discussions” with Calgary about Markstrom and that the Flames are looking for a first-round pick and a “high-end young prospect” in any deal.
Markstrom, 34, posted a 23-23-2 record, two shutouts, and a .905 save percentage in 48 games with the Flames during the 2023-24 regular season. He has two years remaining at a $6 million cap hit on his current contract, which also includes a full no-movement clause. In other words: Markstrom has full control over whether he stays or goes.
Although, from this vantage point, it does seem that Markstrom is keen to be moved, he likely wouldn’t go just anywhere. The New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs, two other teams that have been linked to him, both have top-tier young centres and recent playoff experience. It wouldn’t be a shock to see either team finish near the top of the Eastern Conference next season.
The Sens? That’s another question entirely. Ottawa has now missed the playoffs in each of the last seven seasons, which stands as the third-longest drought in the league. The Sens have good young players, including Tim Stützle and Jake Sanderson, but the franchise has been marred by off-ice instability for years. The hope is that things quiet down with Staios and Michael Andlauer at the helm, but it’s still very early in their respective tenures.
First and foremost, it’s worth looking at the goaltenders Ottawa already has. While 31-year-old Anton Forsberg is a capable backup on a manageable contract who has largely met or exceeded expectations with the Senators, his tandem partner last year fell short on almost all fronts.
Joonas Korpisalo turned 30 in April. He has four years left on his deal, which carries a $4 million cap hit and a 10-team no-trade clause. The AAV isn’t terrible, but the term is. Quite frankly, it’s not out of the question that the Senators buy him out sooner rather than later, but they’d probably prefer to make his contract some other team’s problem.
Could the Flames be that team? After all, Korpisalo is a veteran goaltender with big-game experience — remember his 85-save 5OT game in the bubble playoffs? With Markstrom gone, the Flames could use someone to mentor Dustin Wolf as he looks to cement himself as an NHLer. Korpisalo may have posted an .890 save percentage in 55 games last year, but he managed a .914 in 39 games the year before that. With a change of scenery, it’s entirely possible that Korpisalo could re-establish himself as a positive value asset down the line.
In any case, the Flames certainly shouldn’t be in the business of solving other teams’ problems for free, and make no mistake: Korpisalo’s contract is currently an enormous problem for Ottawa. He could end up being useful for the Flames, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be paid to take him off the Sens’ hands (on top of the value they’d be getting for Markstrom, of course).
The Senators currently possess picks No. 7 and 25 in the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft. On his own, Markstrom is probably worth a pick squarely in the middle of the first round. Would the Flames taking Korpisalo’s contract be enough to convince the Sens to part with the seventh selection? Given how valuable those top-10 picks can be, it feels like it’d be a no-brainer of a proposition for Calgary.
But what about for Ottawa? This is a team that hasn’t made a first-round draft choice since 2021, when they burned the No. 10 pick on Tyler Boucher. They subsequently traded their 2022 and 2023 picks for Alex DeBrincat and Jakob Chychrun, respectively, and they’ll also have to forfeit one of their next three first-rounders as punishment for the Evgenii Dadonov no-trade list fiasco. Getting rid of the No. 7 pick this year for a 34-year-old goaltender might not be the best idea.
Now, depending on the makeup of the deal, it’s entirely possible that the Flames and Sens could work out a pick swap or two. After all, the Flames also possess two first-rounders, and their choices just so happen to be close behind Ottawa’s in both cases. How about a deal wherein Calgary gets picks 7 and 25 and Ottawa gets Markstrom plus picks 9 and 28? The Flames would probably want another asset or two on top of that (especially if Korpisalo is involved; in that case, maybe remove pick 28), but it’s worth considering.
One player who could be of interest to the Flames in any Markstrom deal is winger Mathieu Joseph, who has two years remaining on his contract at a $2.95 million cap hit. The 27-year-old speedster is a strong forechecker and experienced penalty killer who won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and 2021. Garrioch reported last week that the Senators are interested in moving Joseph, who is coming off a career-high 35 points, as they look to reshape their bottom two forward lines. He’s a useful player, not at all a cap dump like Korpisalo, and could probably be flipped for a solid return with salary retention.
And what of the “high-end young prospect” Garrioch mentioned in his Markstrom report? Despite having just missed the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season, the Sens are surprisingly light on blue-chippers. The aforementioned Boucher has had rotten injury luck since being drafted, but he’s still one of the better pieces in a pool that is otherwise headlined by Tyler Kleven, Zack Ostapchuk, Roby Jarventie, and Stephen Halliday.
Good luck prying away guys like Shane Pinto and Ridly Greig — that’s not happening. Ostapchuk, a former WHL Vancouver teammate of Sam Honzek and Jaden Lipinski, might be the best bet. The 2021 second-round pick is a two-time member of Team Canada at the World Juniors and is coming off his first seven NHL games with the Sens down the stretch last season.
The Markstrom chatter makes for entertaining thought exercises like this one. It’s fun to consider what the return could look like from all sorts of teams, not just Ottawa. But the added elements of the Sens’ multiple 2024 firsts and their disastrous Korpisalo contract make them a particularly interesting potential trade partner.
Just for kicks, let’s close this out with a mock trade proposal.
To Ottawa:
G Jacob Markstrom (2 years @ $6 million AAV)
CGY 2024 1st — No. 9 overall
To Calgary:
G Joonas Korpisalo (4 years @ $4 million AAV)
LW Mathieu Joseph (2 years @ $2.95 million AAV)
C Zack Ostapchuk (2 years @ $825,000 AAV, two-way)
OTT 2024 1st — No. 7 overall
BOS 2024 1st — No. 25 overall
FLA 2025 3rd
What do you think of this proposed trade? Let us know in the comments!

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