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Why a Devils Trade for Jacob Markstrom Makes Sense

The New Jersey Devils’ reported re-upped interest in Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom makes sense.

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The Swedish goaltender reportedly wants out of Calgary and a trade to New Jersey is possible. // Credit: Calgary Hockey Now

The New Jersey Devils have made it well known for quite some time that they’re in the goalie market this summer. General Manager Tom Fitzgerald continues reiterating his desire to upgrade the position, and they may be getting their man soon.

Recent reports have put the Devils in the driver’s seat in trade discussions surrounding Calgary Flames goalie, Jacob Markstrom. New Jersey nearly acquired Markstrom in a Devils trade in February, but a deal fell through toward the finish line. Instead, Fitzgerald pivoted to bring in Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen to bridge the gap. However, if the reports that the Devils returned to and are closing in on a Markstrom deal are true, the organization will be hoping they’ll have solved their biggest question heading into the 2024-25 season.

For most of the past year, a Devils trade scenario has been mocked up with the majority of starting goalies who have been speculated or confirmed to be available. For good reason, too, as Fitzgerald cast a wide net. Yet, all signs continue to point to Markstrom. While nothing is official, there are a few good reasons as to why the Devils are reportedly interested in the 34-year-old Swedish netminder.

Since joining Calgary back in 2020, Markstrom has been a reliable presence in net for a team that’s been on a slight downward trajectory. During his four-year tenure with the Flames, he has a 105-78-25 record, with a 2.63 GAA and a 0.907 SV%. He also earned a Vezina nomination in 2021-22 after leading the NHL in shutouts (9) and helping the Flames win the Pacific Division title.

This past year Markstrom put together another solid campaign considering all the trade chatter. His numbers dropped off after the March 8th Trade Deadline — and there’s an argument to be made that’s because of his displeasure with how the Flames handled the near trade to New Jersey. Yet, prior to it, he had 2.62 GAA and a 0.911 SV%. Despite waiving his no-move clause with the expectation that he would be traded, Markstrom still finished as a top goalie, finishing ninth in goals saved above expected, per MoneyPuck.

What Markstrom would bring to the Devils is stability. One of the biggest takeaways from the past two seasons is how high the ceiling is for this core group, as long as they have stable goaltending. Vitek Vanecek is a perfect encapsulation of this. His 2022-23 numbers put him right in the middle of the pack in terms of starting goalies. With average goaltending, the Devils broke the franchise record in regular season points and came one game away from winning the Metropolitan Division title. It all came crashing down in 2023-24, however, and it showed in the Devils’ record. Vanecek was at, or near the bottom of most goaltending statistics and he found himself moved at the trade deadline to San Jose.

The biggest thing Markstrom can do is give the Devils goaltending stability over the next two years. He has two more seasons at $6 million per year before he becomes a free agent again. Acquiring Markstrom gives Fitzgerald two years to reevaluate both the external goalie market, as well as his own goalie prospects.

Akira Schmid and Nico Daws have both shown promise at different points in the NHL. Meanwhile, Isaac Poulter put together a fantastic campaign in the minors, and former fourth-round pick Jakub Malek, earned himself an entry-level contract last month after his strong play in the top league in Finland. After the 2024-25 season, Jake Allen becomes a free agent, leaving a spot open for one of these young goalies to take.

It’s no secret that the New Jersey will be aggressive in pursuit of a Devils trade for a 1A goalie this summer. And with all signs pointing toward a Jacob Markstrom trade, fans should be excited about what he’ll bring to the Devils stability in goal for a young team (and young defense), without locking the organization into a risky long-term contract.

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