There was one netminder that stood apart in a crowded goaltending market, and now he belongs to the Calgary Flames.
Leaving the Vancouver Canucks after three strong seasons, Jacob Markstrom has signed a six-year, $36 million contract with the Flames, which marks the biggest deal brokered since free agency opened earlier Friday.
It seems the Flames have had an endless search for a top-flight goaltender, and now they hope to finally have one in Markstrom, who replaces Cam Talbot in the organizational depth chart and bumps David Rittich down to settle into a better-suited backup position.
Markstrom, 30, had a steady and solid performance in the 2019-20 season, and was arguably the team’s MVP despite a Calder Trophy-nominated season for Quinn Hughes and another step forward for Elias Pettersson. His quality play spilled into the postseason, where he was instrumental in advancing to the second round before a combination of injuries and fatigue forced him to step aside for upstart Thatcher Demko.
Vancouver seemed to still prefer Markstrom over Demko, and tried hard to retain him. That’s worth something given the emergence of Demko and the threat of the expansion draft, but ultimately Calgary’s offer was more desirable for Markstrom.
Markstrom didn’t finish with the most incredible basic numbers, posting a .918 save percentage and leading a goaltending tandem that didn’t fare much better in that regard than the Flames. But a deeper dive into the details of Markstrom’s performance reveals that this was one of the top performers at the position last season, and that his Vezina Trophy buzz wasn’t without merit.
Calgary now has an undisputed starter to build around, which is something we simply haven’t seen from the Flames in many seasons.
Now we turn our attention to how the Flames might re-work their roster in what’s expected to be a busy offseason.
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