Should the Calgary Flames trade Jacob Markstrom?

Photo credit:Brett Holmes-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
5 months ago
Folks, if you’ve been on the internet reading hockey content over the past few weeks, you’ve probably been deluged with trade rumours related to the Calgary Flames. And the reasoning is simple: the Flames are juggling a couple prominent pending free agents in Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin, and that alone would create all sorts of chatter.
But trade rumours regarding goaltender Jacob Markstrom have erupted in recent weeks, fuelled by recent reports that Markstrom was the subject of talks between the Flames and New Jersey Devils. We’re not here to litigate whether the Flames will move Markstrom or not.
We’re curious about if they should trade Markstrom.

The case to trade Markstrom

Right after he was hired as general manager, Craig Conroy’s initial press conference included him discussing the importance of asset management in regards to his seven pending 2024 unrestricted free agents. We’ve seen Conroy put his philosophies into action since that press conference; Mikael Backlund was re-signed, while Tyler Toffoli, Nikita Zadorov and Elias Lindholm were traded and turned into oodles of assets. Moving Markstrom, a 34-year-old goaltender with two seasons left on his deal, would be selling high on a player while the opportunity exists to do so. It’s smart asset management and while it would make the team weaker in the short term, it could be the better long-term move.
Conroy’s been putting his money where his mouth is, and it’s fed into the other thing he said he’d do at that initial press conference: creating opportunities for young players. Our summer prospect rankings have had Dustin Wolf at or near the top since he was drafted. He’s been excellent in the Western Hockey League and the American Hockey League. It’s time to see what he can do, and the best way to do that could be to throw him into the deep end. Moving Markstrom would open up a ton of games at the NHL level for Wolf and give him the runway to prove what he can be.
Finally, moving out a player making $6 million per season would create some additional cap flexibility – even if the Flames ended up retaining salary in the move. If the idea is to retool the hockey club and transform them into a contender in a few seasons, having cap space to do a lot of different things should the opportunity arise is crucial.

The case to keep Markstrom

Remember how many different, frustrating attempts the Flames made to find “the right centre” for Jarome Iginla during his tenure with the Flames? Remember how resource-intensive those attempts were? And remember how many other roster problems went unsolved because a few different general managers were so focused on that one problem? What finding a complimentary centre was to GMs during Iginla’s tenure, finding a stable starting goaltender was to Brad Treliving. He kept trying a bunch of different things, and nothing worked until Markstrom became available. Even if Markstrom only sticks around until the end of his contract, there’s a case to be made for leaving a stable position alone and worrying about fixing other problems on the club’s reserve list.
Let’s also not discount the importance of having the right mentor. A lot of how smoothly the 2013-14 rebuild went has to be credited to having players like Mikael Backlund, Mark Giordano and Matt Stajan around to teach young players how to be good NHLers. If you’re the Flames, having Markstrom as a mentor for Wolf for a couple seasons – before presuming giving him the net completely – could be really beneficial. And let’s go back to the 1990s for a history lesson: the Flames traded Mike Vernon to Detroit in 1994 in order to give the net completely over to Trevor Kidd, who had one season alongside Vernon before becoming The Guy. It didn’t work out. Some extended overlap between Markstrom and Wolf’s tenures might make sense.
Finally, let’s call a spade a spade. If the goal is to keep the team in the playoff mix during the “retool on the fly” period, having a goaltending tandem of Markstrom and Wolf is probably preferable to having Dan Vladar and Wolf. Right now, Markstrom can paper over some challenges the Flames have in terms of roster construction and performance that Vladar hasn’t been able to do as consistently. If the Flames are to remain competitive, Markstrom gives them a good chance to do that for the remainder of his contract, and moreso than the available alternative options.
Do you think the Flames should trade Markstrom? What’s the primary reason for your stance? Let us know in the comments!
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