According to Elliotte Friedman, the New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames were in serious talks about a potential trade involving goaltender Jacob Markstrom. However, he also reported that the trade has since died. So what halted the potential Flames-Devils trade?
Flames ownership is quite adamant about one thing. Whoever is in charge as the general manager in Calgary must be diligent with the Flames’ finances. As a result, the Flames don’t very often retain salary when connecting on trades.
According to Friedman on the latest episode of 32 Thoughts the Podcast, Friedman explains to Jeff Marek that’s exactly where he believes the issue was between the Devils and Flames.
“I think that the Devils and Flames have awkwardly been looking at each other,” Friedman stated. “I just heard it got pretty serious. I’ve talked before on this pod about how the Flames have only kept money once. I believe that was David Rittich to Toronto. That was a deal that had no term. Again, I think the surest predictor of future events is past events. Teams know that the Flames are not crazy about this. I do believe that is a major hurdle and probably the major hurdle.”
It makes sense that GM Tom Fitzgerald is hesitant to acquire the 34-year-old goaltender without the Flames eating some of his cap hit. However, it also makes sense that Calgary doesn’t want to eat a portion of Markstrom’s salary given the fact that he has two years remaining on his contract following this season. The most interesting tidbit is that Friedman believes the Devils and Flames were actually close on what the trade package would have been.
“I think the package, they were closer on that, I’m not 100% sure, but I think hey we’re closer on that,” Friedman continued. “It wasn’t perfect, but I heard the retention was the much bigger problem. I’ve had people tell me it’s fallen apart, it’s over, but I don’t know that. I don’t like to say that because I’ve learned in this business that just because something is true one day, that doesn’t mean it’s true the next day.”
So here’s what we know. The Devils and Flames were close on a deal. They were in town to face the Devils last week. And, Alexander Holtz was promoted to Jack Hughes’ line with Calgary on the other end of the ice.
Unlikely after Holtz has been riding the fourth line for months at this point. The Flames reportedly like Holtz as a player, and it makes sense given their interest in acquiring NHL-ready talent to inject into their lineup right away.
Friedman seems to believe the Devils aren’t going to make the playoffs. It may be a bit early to determine that, however, the insider also said Fitzgerald isn’t sitting on his hands. The Devils’ GM is looking at other possibilities to upgrade New Jersey for now and in the future.
“I do think the Devils are looking at other possibilities now,” Friedman concluded. “What this says to me is a rental makes no sense for the Devils. They’re probably not making the playoffs this year. But, I think they’re looking at guys with term. As I was told, and I heard it from more than one place, is they made a real legit attempt at Markstrom. Again, I don’t know if it ever went to him, but I do know that the two teams made a real serious try.”
The Devils’ health is returning. Two out of the three games they’ve played post-All-Star break have been well played. Perhaps the Devils go on a bit of a run here and sneak into the playoffs. However, if they do, they’re going to need Fitzgerald to buy them a boost on the backend or in goal.
The NHL Trade Deadline is just over three weeks away.