The Calgary Flames landed coveted goaltender Jacob Markstrom when NHL unrestricted free agency opened Friday with a six-year contract worth $36 million US.
Markstrom was hot commodity in a busy goalie market, and thus commanded a big number from the Flames.
“It’s been a privilege and it’s obviously nice to have teams who want you to play for them,” Markstrom said during a conference call from his hometown of Gavle, Sweden.
“Personally, Calgary’s a great fit. It’s a great team. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the guys in the locker room.
“Talking to the staff and the management, they really wanted me. I really wanted to go somewhere they believe in me. They really did that and gave me a great contract.
“I can’t wait to go out there and play for the Flames and prove to them and everybody else that I’m a good goalie. I’m only going to get better.”
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The 30-year-old Swede was crucial in the Vancouver Canucks’ 36-27-6 regular-season record.
Markstrom went 23-16-4 with a 2.75 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He made his NHL playoff debut when the league re-started in August. Markstrom backstopped Vancouver to the second round of the playoffs.
The six-foot-six, 206-pound netminder went 8-6 with a GAA of 2.85, a save percentage of .919 and a shutout.
Cam Talbot and David Rittich were Calgary’s tandem last season with Talbot getting the nod as the playoff starter.
Talbot, 33, went on the open market Friday. He signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Wild.
In Brad Treliving’s six seasons as Calgary’s general manager, the Flames have had 11 different goalies start in Calgary’s net. The GM was under pressure to provide stability at that position.
Markstrom’s $6-million annual salary is a significant raise.
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His previous contract in Vancouver was $11 million over three years for an average of $3.6 million, according to CapFriendly.com.
Markstrom becomes the fifth Swede under contract with the Flames. He joins forwards Mikael Backlund and Elias Lindholm, and defencemen Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson.
Markstrom and Lindholm are both from Gavle and often golf together.
“There is a lot of Swedes there. Sweden is not the biggest country in the world, so you either played against them or with them growing up,” the goalie said.
“It’s going to be fun to see those guys and not play against them. There’s a bunch of not only Swedish players on the Flames I’m happy to be on the same team [with] and not against.”
Calgary also re-signed forward Buddy Robinson to a one-year deal.