NHL Rumour Roundup: Can the Devils work out a big trade for Markstrom or Saros?

Sam Cosentino and Jason Bukala join Caroline Cameron to discuss how much the Calgary Flames could expect to receive if they trade Chris Tanev and Jacob Markstrom this season at the NHL trade deadline.

It’s still jarring to see the New Jersey Devils, a 112-point team a season ago, just barely hanging on in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. With 54 points through 50 games, the Devils are six points behind the second wild-card spot with one game in hand of Detroit, and eight points out of third in the Metropolitan Division with three games in hand of Philadelphia. New Jersey also would have to leapfrog over the Islanders, who are two points ahead with 52 games played.

Injuries certainly are a big part of the story for New Jersey, who’ve been without Dougie Hamilton since November and missed Jack Hughes for 16 games. Even with that, however, the Devils measure up well in many different ways. They have a top 10 power play, are top 10 in expected-goals percentage, are a top 10 team in shot-attempt percentage and are even top 10 by team shooting percentage. New Jersey largely controls the run of play at 5-on-5.

The most obvious sore spot comes in net, where neither Vitek Vanecek nor Akira Schmid have played up to a No. 1 job that’s there for the taking. Twenty-three-year-old Nico Daws even got seven starts in January, but in only two of them did he have a .900 save percentage.

The Devils have been stung by near-league-worst goaltending, with an all-situations team save percentage of .883 that ranks 31st out of 32 teams. On Hockey Night in Canada‘s Headlines segment Saturday night, Elliotte Friedman reported the Flames and Devils had discussions about goalie Jacob Markstrom ahead of last week’s meeting between the two (a 5-3 Calgary win), but that it wasn’t clear if those negotiations were far enough along that Markstrom was approached about it.

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“I think the Devils and the Flames have been awkwardly looking at each other. I just heard it got pretty serious,” Friedman added to the subject on Monday morning’s 32 Thoughts: The Podcast.

While the Devils remain hopeful of making a push to the playoffs — and, quite frankly, have the potential to pull it off — it still doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to buy a rental at the position. If New Jersey is going to address its goaltending with a trade in-season, it’d have to be for a goalie who would be around through at least next season.

Markstrom makes $6 million against the cap for another two seasons past this one so, in that sense, he fits with the Devils’ roster needs. The problem is that New Jersey, already with limited cap space, may want the Flames to retain some of that money — a big ask through 2026.

“The Flames have, I believe, only kept money once and I think that was David Rittich to Toronto and that was a deal that had no term,” Friedman continued. “Teams know the Flames are not crazy about this. I do believe that is a major hurdle and was probably the major hurdle.”

Friedman added that while he had been told by some people that this potential deal between the Flames and Devils had fallen apart, the fact is the trade deadline is still over three weeks away and tough negotiations everywhere are ongoing.

If the Devils can’t pull Markstrom out of Calgary, perhaps they could turn their sights to…


Nashville’s goalie was part of last season’s trade deadline rumour mill because he was an elite goalie on a bargain of a contract playing for a team with an uncertain future direction. Saros stuck around, of course, but this season those same questions are coming up again.

And as the Devils survey the goalie market landscape, Saros would certainly be an intriguing target. He makes less than Markstrom ($5 million) and is signed through next season before he’d be in line for a raise. On paper, he could be exactly what New Jersey needs to take the next step.

But, of course, they wouldn’t be the only ones in this market.

“The Predators are looking for a top offensive player and those players are hard to find,” Friedman said on the podcast. “And Saros is the kind of guy who can get you some offence. The name Byfield has been thrown around, but he’s not getting you Quinton Byfield.”

Yes, the Kings are another team that could be seeking help in net, as Cam Talbot has faded from a great first half and Los Angeles seeks to re-establish its footing in the tough Pacific Division.

Another goalie-needy team are the Carolina Hurricanes, and Friedman floated Martin Nečas as a player who could be attractive to Nashville — a 25-year-old scoring forward making $3 million against the cap and an arbitration-eligible RFA this summer.

But we went through this last season and Saros wasn’t traded. And, besides, Nashville is still very much in the playoff picture, just two points out of a wild-card spot. So what’s different this time?

It could simply be about contract outlook and the window Nashville has to work with here to maximize its assets. At the moment, Saros has one of the best value contracts in the league, but when it expires next season he’ll be due a hefty raise right as the salary cap rises again. And Nashville, not strong enough to be a contender but not weak enough to be scorched-earth rebuilding, has to consider if they’re better off re-investing huge dollars in their difference-making goalie, or seeking out a pile of assets in trade one year before he becomes a potential rental target.

“I do wonder if Nashville is looking at that saying ‘hey we love Juuse Saros but does this make sense for us?'” Friedman said. “Nobody from Nashville has said ‘we don’t want to pay that’ but I do think teams look at that. Saros is on this deal now, but what does his next deal look like and what does it mean?”


With two regulation losses over the weekend to Minnesota and Winnipeg, the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ playoff hopes took a hit and they’re now seven points out of the wild card with a couple games in hand. Their .541 points percentage, it should be pointed out, is still ninth in the Eastern Conference.

But every loss puts the playoffs more in peril and makes the pending decision on scoring winger Jake Guentzel all the more difficult. While the Penguins have the unenviable task of balancing between trying to win now and needing to replenish a depleted prospect base, it would be hard to see them hanging on to Guentzel past March 8 if he doesn’t have an extension in place by then.

It may come down to price. Can GM Kyle Dubas get what he wants in a trade package?

Friedman pointed out that a comparable in this case may be Claude Giroux, who was dealt from rebuilding Philadelphia to contending Florida in 2022. In that move, Florida gave up prospect Owen Tippett and their 2024 first-rounder as the main pieces in a big trade that also included Philadelphia retaining 50 per cent of Giroux’s expiring salary.

“Don’t forget Florida was down on Tippett at the time, but he’s turned out to be a great find for Philly,” Friedman said. “If Giroux had gone to Colorado (instead) it was a first-rounder and, I think, (Justin) Barron. And so it was a first and a good prospect in both those cases.

“Dubas is sitting there thinking, ‘Look if you want Guentzel, I want the Giroux deal.”

There is time to let this play out still. This week the Penguins play Florida, Chicago and Los Angeles and then face the Islanders — a team they’re chasing — early next week. With the games they have in hand, a good run could quickly make their playoff chances look a little rosier again.

A few more losses may put more pressure on Dubas to find a trade for Guentzel. And, heck, even if the Penguins hang in the race right up until March 8, they may have to move on from him anyway.

“I think Dubas is prepared to let this play out because he knows the comparables and everybody else knows the comparables, too. To me it’s just a question of when does Dubas decide if he’s going to do it,” Friedman said.

“If Pittsburgh is in the race, I still think he does it.”

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