One of the biggest storylines for last year’s Calgary Flames was their goaltending… or lack thereof. Even if a few more saves were made, the Flames would have made the playoffs last year. After all, Markstrom was pretty much a consistent 0.910 SV% or above goaltender for the eight seasons prior to 2022–23. His drop off to 0.892 in 2022–23, just a year after putting up a 0.922 and being the runner-up for the Vezina trophy, was crazy to see.
Now, Markstrom has started out the 2023–24 season better than last year. It has only been three games, but Markstrom looks more dialled in. He is visibly more fluid in his movement and doesn’t seem like he’s fighting for every save. He hasn’t let in a goal on the first shot yet, which is a nice change from what seemed like every second game in 2022–23. The numbers so far aren’t great, at a 2.96 GAA and .898 SV%. Looking at deeper metrics, however, shows Markstrom has been pretty good.
Markstorm’s performance so far
Again I will start by saying the sample size is incredibly small here at only three games. However, GSAx and GSAA models do rate Markstrom higher than his 0.898 SV% would show.
Two GSAx models come from Evolving-Hockey.com and MoneyPuck.com. These two models differ quite a bit so early in the season, but both show Markstrom as being a positive goaltender in all situations. Evolving-Hockey’s model shows Markstrom at 4.36 goals saved above expected so far, but MoneyPuck shows Markstrom at 0.5 goals saved above expected. An interesting note, changing this to strictly 5v5 puts Markstrom toward the bottom of goaltenders so far. So, these results show Markstrom was been really good on the penalty kill, but has struggled a bit at 5v5, which matches the eye test pretty well. Either way, the numbers are improved compared to what we saw last year. But, it is very early.
Does Markstrom’s performance so far rejuvenate trade talks around Dan Vladar?
David Pagnotta, everyone’s favourite “insider”, posted the following on Twitter a few days ago:
Note: I don’t put too much stock into what Pagnotta says, as most of it is untrue. Extreme grain of salt here. But it’s definitely worth having the conversation. Pagnotta says the Flames have re-engaged in trade talks involving Dan Vladar. I don’t know why the team would have stopped having trade talks regarding Vladar, but either way, it is great to hear the team is still looking at making room for Dustin Wolf.
We have previously looked at the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche as trade destinations for Vladar, as they had injuries come up in their tandems. Either move would be difficult given the cap situations for both teams, but those are the two teams that have an obvious need right now. Moving Vladar would help clear up roughly $1.39M in cap space, assuming Wolf is recalled in a corresponding move. This would allow the team to carry an extra player on their roster, or switch their LTIR configuration from Oliver Kylington to Kevin Rooney instead. This will be a fascinating story to watch moving forward.