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Jacob Markstrom’s departure allows the Calgary Flames to continue their youth movement

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 month ago
Back in early February, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils had engaged in “legit” conversations about a trade involving netminder Jacob Markstrom. On Wednesday, four and a half months after the initial reports emerged, Markstrom finally became a Devil.
Speaking to FlamesNation on Friday, a couple days after the trade was executed, Flames general manager Craig Conroy acknowledged the speculation about earlier trade talks and Markstrom’s frustrations, but indicated the deal was more about improving the Flames going forward.
“You know, there was lots of speculation earlier at the trade deadline and obviously there was no deal at the time,” said Conroy. “And then, as we moved forward, with where we’re at and obviously with it being back out in the public… and I think everyone knew Markstrom was a little upset at the trade deadline, but I think you’re trying to improve your team and make it better, and look to the future.”
Since the off-season began, the media rumour mill has picked up regarding goaltenders as various clubs reportedly began looking at improving at that position. As the NHL Draft approached, the trade market seemed to heat up and – combined with the Flames’ desire to bolster their youth movement – it led to the trade coming to fruition.
“When you look at Markstrom being 34, and then where we’re at,” said Conroy. “We’re trying to continue to win, get younger, and bring in pieces that are going to help us moving forward, to bring in Kevin Bahl and possibly a first-round pick in ’25 or ’26, just made sense. And I do think there were other goalies out in the market and it did start to pick up, and we just thought this was the right time to move forward with the trade.”
In 2019, the Flames drafted Dustin Wolf in the seventh round of the NHL Draft. Since then, Wolf has been named the goaltender of the year in his league for four of the past five seasons, and he split last season between the Flames and the AHL’s Wranglers, which undoubtedly hurt his chances at winning a fifth such award. While Markstrom’s departure alone won’t result in Wolf being anointed as the club’s next top netminder, Conroy noted it will create opportunities for both Wolf and incumbent backup Dan Vladar.
“I think it helps both Vladdy and Wolfie,” said Conroy. “Like anything, it’s always a competition, but it does give him an opportunity to come in and earn a job. I think with Markstrom here, he was the starter, he was the number-one guy, and it does give more flexibility moving forward at the goalie position for sure, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Meanwhile, the Flames also add big-bodied blueliner Kevin Bahl, who boasts both size and what the Flames feel is a lot of untapped potential.
“First, you love the size,” said Conroy. “He’s a big man, but it’s not just about size. I think over the time since he’s turned pro, and even how well he played in junior in Ottawa, I think we’ve been tracking him, watching him. I kind of compared him to a Zadorov type player. I think when you’ve lost players like that they’re hard to find, and when you can get a 23-year-old, 6’6”, 230 pound defenceman, and still, his game’s maturing though, I think he’s still working on his game and we expect a lot of good things coming his way. And he’s only getting better every year he’s been pro.”
Ultimately, the Flames divested themselves of a 34-year-old goaltender, adding a pair of younger assets and allowing themselves the opportunity to give larger roles to both of their incumbent younger goaltenders (Wolf and Vladar). For a team that’s working through a retooling process, it seems like a prudent piece of asset management.
Next up for the Flames? A trip to scenic Las Vegas for the 2024 NHL Draft, unfolding June 28 & 29 from the Sphere.

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