Flames’ Markstrom fuels trade rumours, speculation at exit press conference

Eric Francis and Ryan Leslie discuss the Calgary Flames' end-of-season press conference, including Jacob Markstrom's revealing comments about his future, and how the team seems to be trending positively despite missing the playoffs.

CALGARY – As much as Jacob Markstrom laments the fact his season was clouded by trade speculation, he did nothing to stop it on Friday.

In fact, he fuelled it.

Asked where he saw himself playing next season, the Flames netminder offered up a simple, “I don’t know.”

Coupled with Craig Conroy’s suggestion, “time will tell,” it’s not much of a stretch to conclude the final two years of Markstrom’s contract will be played elsewhere.

If the price is right.

[brightcove videoID=6351264587112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Despite the fact there wasn’t a significant market for the $6 million goalie at this year’s trade deadline, you can bet a few early playoff casualties will join the bidding this summer for a man who was the Flames MVP the first three quarters of the season.

For a franchise that has seen its narrative dominated by the departure of five veterans who weren’t keen on being part of a retool, the most natural question on locker cleanout day revolved around whether more pillars wanted out.

Nazem Kadri made it clear he’s in it for the long haul.

“For sure, I mean, I chose to be here,” said the man who signed a seven-year deal as a UFA two summers ago.

“There were other options for me, I chose Calgary and I still feel that way.”

Markstrom wasn’t willing to offer up similar confirmation, ensuring his future will be the team’s number one storyline this summer.

“What I do know is I love winning hockey games,” said Markstrom, who shrugged off his 23-23-2 record, 2.78 GAA and .905 save percentage, even though his play allowed the Flames to stay competitive a good chunk of the year.

“That’s the competitive side of me. Every time I lace up my skates that’s what I want to accomplish. That’s pretty much where my head is at right now.”

It certainly suggests he’s dreaming of greener pastures, where winning will come a whole lot easier than it’s expected to for a team forced to kick off a youth movement this season.  

“Season just ended, and I saw Connie, and leave it at that,” was all Markstrom cared to say about their morning exit meeting.

[brightcove videoID=6351253558112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

Was he led to believe before the deadline he would be a Devil, as one report suggested?

“I don’t know – I just read what you guys are writing,” said the 34-year-old.

“I’m not going to go into details here on stage with a bunch of cameras. 

“What we talked about stayed with us and that’s how it’s going to stay. I’m not going to share a personal conversation I had with management.”

Is the relationship strained, as suggested by his pointed shot March 1 when he said his trade deadline situation, “could have been handled a lot different from up top.” 

“I would hope no,” said Markstrom, who has a full no-movement clause that can control the narrative this summer.

“I would say no.”

Asked to clarify how he felt the situation was mishandled, he seemed only to suggest he was unhappy his name was in the rumour mill at all, disrupting the team and its star goalie. 

“In my mind, I’m here now, so all the rambling could have been not happening,” he explained.

“That’s what I would have appreciated, just me focusing on the team and playing as good as I can without any distractions, is what I was mostly pointing at.”

[brightcove videoID=6351252659112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

How he felt justified in blaming management for the type of rumours that surround dozens of players every year wasn’t clear, and isn’t something either side wants to revisit.

“Obviously that wasn’t something anybody was happy with,” said Conroy, whose team played through endless rumours and speculation as it swapped out five veteran UFAs. 

“Marky explained where he was at. I talked to him about where we are at. (Markstrom’s agent) Pat Morris and everybody kind of knows now. We’re going to keep that between ourselves.

“It was cordial.

“He was good, he was a great pro.

“I know he wasn’t happy, but the way he treated the staff, coaches, you guys. He was upset with the way things went down. I get it. My name has been out in rumours too and it’s a lot on your family.”

“We had a good talk.”

Niceties aside, they’re heading to Splitsville.

Dustin Wolf will benefit with more playing time, but the team’s desire to chase a playoff spot without Markstrom will take a hit.

Asked if he envisioned Markstrom returning next season, Conroy responded with the old, “time will tell.”

Hardly the kind of thing a GM says when one of the backbones of a franchise is intent on returning.

And so, speculation will continue to swirl.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.