Markstrom says trade talks ‘could’ve been handled differently from up top’; LeBrun says Devils no longer seeking retention

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
1 month ago
Jacob Markstrom’s name has been in the rumour mill for weeks leading up to the March 8 trade deadline.
The 34-year-old goaltender has done everything he can to keep the Calgary Flames in the playoff hunt this season, posting a 20-15-2 record and a .914 save percentage through 37 games. But despite Markstrom’s best efforts, the Flames are solidly out of the playoff picture. They’re currently seven points back of both the Nashville Predators and the L.A. Kings for the two wild card spots in the Western Conference.
The sell-off has already begun in Calgary. It started all the way back in June, when they sent Tyler Toffoli to the New Jersey Devils. In the months since, they’ve parted ways with Nikita Zadorov, Elias Lindholm, and Chris Tanev. And in recent weeks, it’s seemed as though the Flames have come close to sending another prominent player to New Jersey: Markstrom, who has two years left after this one at a $6 million cap hit.
Earlier this month, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Daily Faceoff‘s Frank Seravalli reported that the Devils and Flames were ‘far down the track’ on consummating a deal for Markstrom — close enough that the Flames even asked Markstrom if he would waive his no-movement clause to go to New Jersey.
Although there were reportedly no issues on Markstrom’s side, the deal fell through for undisclosed reasons, which seemed to leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouth of everyone involved.
“Everyone in here I really respect everything that’s been going on, and not going on, and how everyone in this room has handled everything,” Markstrom said Friday, in response to a question from Sportsnet’s Eric Francis. “I think it’s been really good.
“And then the whole situation and everything, am I happy about that? No I’m not. I think it could have been handled a lot different from up top.”
Initial reports suggested that the Flames and Devils might not be able to revisit their trade talks for Markstrom “based on how it played out.”
It seems that landscape may have changed. Also on Friday, The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun reported that the Devils have re-engaged with the Flames about Markstrom.
Crucially, the Devils also indicated that they are now willing to make a deal happen without the Flames retaining any of Markstrom’s remaining salary. But, as LeBrun added, it won’t be an easy decision for Flames GM Craig Conroy to make.
“After a failed trade attempt a few weeks ago, I’m told New Jersey reached out again to the Calgary Flames this week to say it was still interested in the 34-year-old netminder,” LeBrun said. “And in fact, I believe the Devils are now willing to make that trade without the Flames having to retain salary, which was a sticking point last time around (or at least the asset cost on retaining salary was).
“But even with the Devils offering to take on all of Markstrom’s contract, which pays him $6 million per year through the 2025-26 season, I think it’s still a tough trade to contemplate for Flames GM Craig Conroy,” LeBrun continued. “His team is battling hard, and trading its MVP would probably gut his dressing room. He is definitely sensitive to that.
“It is certainly a trade conversation that can be revisited this off-season, too. By then, the Devils might also have new goalie options on the market to look at, though. So that’s the Catch-22 for the Flames. Not an easy call either way …”
The Flames currently rank fifth in the Pacific Division and 10th in the Western Conference with a 29-25-5 record and 63 points in 59 games this season.
In addition to Markstrom, the Flames still have pending UFA defenceman Noah Hanifin on the trade block. He’s a virtual lock to be moved before the March 8 trade deadline.
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