Now is the time for the Calgary Flames to trade Jacob Markstrom

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Munnich
1 month ago
One of the hot topics of discussion around the NHL these days is the future of Jacob Markstrom.
Markstrom has been the backbone of a Calgary Flames team that has not performed up to their standard in the 2023-24 season and ranks in the bottom half of the NHL in nearly every statistical category.
Markstrom is the reason why the Flames aren’t in the lottery conversation right now. He’s been that good.
So, that leads us to what the Flames should do with Markstrom. Should they keep him? Should they trade him?
There has been a lot of discussion about why it doesn’t make sense to move Markstrom from some members of the media throughout the NHL and on social media from fans.
Although Markstrom is a good goalie and has been phenomenal this season, it doesn’t make sense to hold on to him.

His value will never be higher

It’s good asset management to trade veteran players at their peak value when you’re entering a rebuild. Markstrom is there right now.
He is having a Vezina Trophy calibre season in the Flames crease. Since Dec. 1, Markstrom has a .924 save percentage, 2.34 goals against average, and two shutouts. He ranks in the top 10 in every one of those stats among goalies to play in at least 15 games.
His underlying numbers are off the charts good. Markstrom ranks in the top three of NHL goalies in goals saved above expected. That’s in both public and private models.
I would argue this is the best hockey that Markstrom has played as a Flame. He was excellent in the 2021-22 season when he finished second in Vezina Trophy voting. But he was playing in front of the best defensive team in hockey that season. This season, he is playing elite level goaltending in front of a below average defensive team.

Goaltending is volatile

Goaltending in the NHL is one of the most difficult positions to prognosticate in all of professional sports. It’s difficult to predict performance from one year to the next. The up and down nature of the position is why you need to make a move now if you’re the Calgary Flames.
Take a look at the wide range in results Markstrom has produced during his four years in Calgary.
Markstrom is the type of goalie to have some wild swings in his performance. 2021-22 and 2023-24 he looks like a guy who could win Vezina Trophies. In the 2021 and 2022-23 seasons he was a below average goalie with zero value on the trade market.
This is why it is so imperative to move Markstrom now. You don’t know what you’re going to get from him at any given time.
No one would have taken him on last season. Now the Flames are in a position to sell him and receive high quality assets to kick off their rebuild.

Long term plans 

It’s highly unlikely that the Markstrom is going to re-sign with the Flames when his contract expires in 2026. He is not in the long term plans of the Flames. So why keep him around for the next couple seasons? The Flames are looking to rebuild over that time. Markstrom prevents them from getting a better draft pick in the first round.
The Flames also have Dustin Wolf and Dan Vladar, two younger goalies to build around.
From Markstrom’s perspective, you’d think he’d want to have a legitimate chance to compete for a Stanley Cup. He’s nearing the end of his prime as a player and is running out of opportunities to win. A fresh start might be good for he and the team.

Opportunity cost 

This is something I don’t think Flames fans have been talking about enough. The idea that by not trading Markstrom and others, you’re missing out on the opportunity to acquire draft picks and prospects and have them start developing now, instead of two plus years from now when you want to start to be competitive.
Say the Flames were able to get Alex Holtz and a 2024 first-round pick from the Devils this trade deadline. The Flames can start to develop Holtz now, and make a selection in the 2024 draft. The player selected in the 2024 draft will be 20-21 years old by the time 2026 rolls around. If the Flames were to make a Markstrom trade a couple years from now, they’ll be drafting an 18 year old in 2026. That’s two full developmental years behind what you could have had in 2024.
The Flames want to turn things around quickly. Holding on to assets and trading them in 2026 and beyond is only going to slow down the rebuilding process.


I’ve seen the argument made that you have to keep Markstrom around to mentor Dustin Wolf. I don’t buy that for a second.
Firstly, does Markstrom want to be a mentor and help develop Wolf to the point where he could potentially take starts away from him? Markstrom is competitive and wants to cash in on a new contract in 2026. Having Wolf split starts with him is not going to get him a big pay day.
If you do want a veteran goalie to mentor Wolf, then overpay a UFA for a couple years. The Flames signed Jonas Hiller to a 2 year, $9 million deal in 2014. Do something like that. There are lots of goalies out there who would be happy to mentor Wolf. It doesn’t have to be Markstrom.
It makes little to no sense to hold on to Markstrom if you’re the Calgary Flames because of where they are in their winning cycle. This is a team in a rebuild. They need to cash in on assets at their peak value right now. not hold onto them and stay in the mushy middle.
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