Well, it finally happened.

After months of speculation, Flames GM Craig Conroy pulls off what could be the move of the summer. Jacob Markstrom moves on and gets a fresh start in New Jersey.

As your trusty Area 51 Flames writer, it’s been a quiet few months for me. With the team quietly slumping to the end of the season, I thought I was free to enjoy playoff hockey. But I should’ve known with the Flames arch rival competing for the Cup, the team couldn’t let the Oilers have the headlines.

The trade speculation on Markstrom started to pick up at the trade deadline in March. A deal with New Jersey was reportedly close at this time, but it ultimately fell through.

Offseason rumors continued with the Ottawa Senators reportedly having strong interest in the goalie. Recently, Conroy was quoted saying Markstrom never asked for a trade. Despite this, the deal is now done and Markstrom is headed to New Jersey.

Full trade details:

To Calgary Flames: Kevin Bahl, 2025 1st Round Pick (Top-10 protected)

To New Jersey Devils: Jacob Markstrom (31.25% retained on remaining contract)

Let’s break down the trade and give instant grades for both teams.

New Jersey Devils Instant Trade Grade: A

It’s hard to say this isn’t a good move for the Devils. A young team with playoff expectations was wrecked by ill-timed injuries and poor goaltending. The team saw five goaltenders split time in the blue paint- Nico Daws, Vitek Vanecek, Akira Schmid, Jake Allen and Kaapo Kahkonen.

Vanecek played the most (32 games) for the Devils and finished the season with a 3.18 goals-against-average (GAA) and an .890 save percentage. Vanecek was moved to Sharks as part of the deal to pick up Kahkonen at the trade deadline.

Post-deadline, Jake Allen started the most games (13) in the crease finishing with a 3.12 GAA and a .900 save percentage. The season was lost for the Devils, but an improvement in the crease could help this team progress.

What does Markstrom bring?

Improvement is likely to come with the 34-year old Markstrom. The 6’6”, 206 lbs. goalie has spent four seasons in Calgary since signing with the Flames in 2020. Last season, he posted a 23-23-2 record with a 2.78 GAA and a .905 save percentage. Markstrom also had two shutouts. He’s also been a workhorse over his career, playing over 40 games every year since the 2017-18 season.

Parting ways with a young defenceman is always tough. Kevin Bahl is only 23 and showing steady signs of improvement. But with a top four of Luke Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, Simon Nemec and John Marino set, it makes sense to part ways with Bahl. And while the 2025 draft is projected to be stronger than this year, the top-10 protection ensures the Devils won’t lose out on a premier prospect if things don’t go to plan next season.

You have to commend the Devils management. They recognize the state of their team with many of their top young players still on their rookie deals. Goaltending was a clear issue, and getting one of the top goalies at a reasonable salary cap hit seems like a no brainer. With $16 million in cap room and a starting goalie set for the rest of the offseason, the Devils get an A on this trade.

Calgary Flames Instant Trade Grade- B-

I do have to give Flames GM Craig Conroy props. He’s not letting top assets walk off the team for nothing. And maybe the market just wasn’t there for a goalie on the wrong side of thirty. But for a goalie who has been top five in Vezina voting and a reliable workhorse for years, the return seems a little underwhelming.

I like Kevin Bahl for the Flames. The defenseman is huge, at 6’6” and 230 lbs. He has proved he can handle playing a full NHL season, picking up 11 points in 82 games and logging over 17 minutes of ice time a night for the Devils in 2023-24. Bahl is also under contract for one more year at just over $1 million a year, a great price for what will likely be a top-six defenseman.

Who’s in goal?

The big question for this trade is who will be in the Flames goal for next season. Dan Vladar and Dustin Wolf are the only two goalies currently on the roster. Vladar has shown flashes in his NHL career, but has never proven he has the consistency to be a long-term starter.

Wolf has dominated the AHL, including winning the AHL MVP award in 2022-23, but has yet to replicate that success with the big club. In 17 games with the Flames last year, he posted a 3.16 GAA and a .893 save percentage. Wolf is an RFA this offseason and needs to be signed. The success of these goalies could change the view of the trade going into next season.

As mentioned above, the first round pick is great. But with the protection and the strength of the Devils roster, it’s hard to see to see this pick being mid-first round at best. The team has done well to pick up two first round picks after initially dealing their own 2025 first rounder away in the Sean Monahan deal.

It’s good asset management and the Flames are slowly building a strong prospect pool. But it’s hard not to be underwhelmed when giving up a franchise goalie who’s been a workhorse for your team for four seasons. B- from me.

The Rebuild Continues

The good news is it is clear the Flames are remaining committed to the full rebuild. A retool won’t work for this team, and it’s time for a full tear down. While it’s disappointing to have to commit multiple years to being bottom feeders, it’s better than being stuck in mediocrity for a decade. For more Flames coverage, and all the best NHL news make sure you keep following Area 51 Sports Network.