Perhaps the New Jersey Devils are in good hands with goaltender Nico Daws. However, General Manager Tom Fitzgerald is going to proceed with caution here. The Devils have been in this situation before. Last season, Akira Schmid broke out and provided New Jersey with plenty of quality starts, including in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yet, where does that leave them now?
The point is, the Devils are likely still looking to solidify their crease. However, according to insider Elliotte Friedman on Sportsnet’s Saturday Night Headlines, one of the Devils’ potential goaltending trade targets is going to be an unlikely purchase. Friedman explains it’s going to take a lot for the Calgary Flames to even entertain the idea of moving Jacob Markstrom.
“No.1, I don’t believe they’ve gone to him with anything, as in any possibility of what could happen,” Friedman said. “No.2, he has a No-Move Clause. As Kelly Hrudey always argues, no one with a no-move clause should even be asked if they can be traded. From what I understand, Calgary has a very high bar here in terms of they’re not going to bother Markstrom with just anything. It would have to be something massive for them or somewhere they absolutely believe Markstrom would want to go before they would even consider going to him. I think that’s where things stand with Markstrom, the Flames, and anything right now.”
There are a couple of things to take away from this. Friedman mentions the Flames won’t approach Markstrom to waive his no-move clause. Not unless it’s a destination he’d absolutely want to go to. Is New Jersey on that list? Perhaps former teammate Tyler Toffoli helps the appeal, but there might be more desirable locations for Markstrom to be the No.1.
Second, as Friedman states, it’ll take something massive to move Markstrom. Unfortunately for the Devils, prospects and picks likely aren’t enough to make that happen. In terms of massive, that sounds like Dawson Mercer or Simon Nemec — plus more — in a potential trade to retrieve Markstrom which the Devils certainly won’t want to do.
There’s no denying Markstrom is an excellent goaltender. He owns 13 wins in 26 starts on an inconsistent Flames team. Additionally, he’s accrued an excellent 2.59 GAA, .912 SV%, and an incredible 13.4 goals saved above expected this season.
However, if Daws has proven anything in his small sample, the Devils just need average goaltending to be successful, although Daws has been a bit better than that. Again, small sample.
It’s not worth it for the Devils to trade away significant, long-term assets for the remaining two years on his contract at $6 million AAV following this season which makes this an unlikely purchase.
The goaltending market is certainly bloated. The Devils won’t truly know what they have in Daws until they see a larger sample. Perhaps there’s a cheaper option out there that will work well in tandem with Daws. Say, someone like Kaapo Kahkonen? Maybe even Jake Allen? At this point, it’s just not Vitek Vanecek.