Flames’ Markstrom keeping an open mind amidst uncertain future in Calgary

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) looks up at the video board after a goal by Minnesota Wild left wing Pat Maroon during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, in St. Paul, Minn. (Abbie Parr/AP)

NEW YORK — Despite having a no-move clause in his contract, Jacob Markstrom insists it’s the Calgary Flames who are in control of his future.

Asked for the first time about the rampant speculation surrounding where he might play out the remaining two years of his deal, the 34-year-old netminder confirmed in a quiet, one-on-one chat the ball is in management’s court. 

“It’s up to Calgary, what they want to do,” said Markstrom, who will start tonight in New Jersey. 

 “That’s what it comes down to.

“I don’t control it.

“Whatever direction they want to go, and what they want to do, I’m not going to force anything.

“I’m not going to go up and meet and ask for a trade either.

“I’m here to play, I’m enjoying every day and we’ve got a great group.”

Asked if the Flames had already approached him to see if he’d waive his no-trade clause, Markstrom was candid.

“No,” he said. 

“We’ll see.

“When they send an email that I’ve got to sign something to remove my no-move clause, then it’s a different conversation we’ve gotta have. 

“But I’m just playing.”

His open-mindedness is interesting, as many likely would have expected him to simply refer to the trade protection and insist he signed his six-year, $36 million deal in Calgary for a reason, and intended to play it out.

However, with the trade of his best pal, Elias Lindholm, last week, it’s clear things are changing in Calgary.

He may also be about to lose one or two of his most reliable defencemen, Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev. 

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The combination of Calgary’s youth movement and Markstrom’s return to form this season has many wondering if now is the time to cash in on the Swede’s hot hand.

It’s no secret the Flames need to make room for future starter Dustin Wolf by fall at the latest, prompting hockey’s trade gurus to wonder aloud how many teams he’d help down the stretch, and at what cost.

Asked if having his name in trade chatter bothers him, he shrugged.

“I don’t read,” he smiled.

“I know they’ve got to call me before (a trade), and they haven’t called me, so I just keep playing.”

“Life is good.”

The former Vezina finalist has battled back from the team’s slow start to post a 2.55 GAA and .913 save percentage while going 15-13-2. 

He’s unquestionably the team’s MVP this season, and would be a massive upgrade for playoff contenders like Toronto, New Jersey, Carolina, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Craig Conroy has not been shopping Markstrom, but if someone approached the Flames GM with a significant offer, he now knows there’s a possibility Markstrom would be open to discussing it.

Markstrom’s fate has been a hot topic in town, as many believe he’s helping the Flames win too many games, thus hurting the team’s draft position.  

Yet, people like Conroy believe it’s important to maintain a winning culture while retooling on the fly, which is something Markstrom has been instrumental in this year, doing his part to keep the team on the fringe of the wild card race. 

“I feel good, and obviously confident,” said Markstrom of a hot streak that has seen him go 6-3 in 2024, which included a stellar performance in Tuesday’s 4-1 win in Boston.

“I’ve been able to work a lot with Barbs (goalie coach Jason LaBarbera).

“Learning from previous years, you just learn. 

“I feel like when you stop learning it’s time to hang ’em up.

“I work with the d-men, and the wingers, and the centres and I feel like everything is connecting.”

Just how long he remains connected to the organization remains to be seen.

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