The Toronto Maple Leafs Missed the Boat with Jacob Markstrom

The Toronto Maple Leafs missed an opportunity to score a starting netminder for a relatively low price. The recent New Jersey-Calgary trade serves as an example of how being aggressive can lead to positive outcomes.
The Toronto Maple Leafs missed an opportunity in the Jacob Markstrom trade.
The Toronto Maple Leafs missed an opportunity in the Jacob Markstrom trade. / Derek Cain/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs were in on Jacob Markstrom, but they missed the boat.

Ultimately it wasn't the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the New Jersey Devils wanded Jacob Markstrom for a seemingly low price.

The Devils gave up a top-ten protected first-round pick and a depth defenseman to get him. The return for Markstrom seems surprisingly underwhelming, considering that New Jersey was desperate to get a true starting goaltender. (stats from

Now, there are a lot of moving parts in this trade. First of all, is Jacob Markstrom a true number-one goaltender?

Well, let’s look at the numbers: Markstrom played in 48 games this past season. He racked up 23 wins, a 2.78 GAA and a .905SV%. Those numbers are hardly Vezina-calibre figures but could work for a team looking to make the playoffs.

Now, here’s where things get interesting: Jacob Markstrom is 34 years old. He’s got a $6 million cap hit and has two years left on his current deal. In short, he’s a perfect addition to a team looking at the prospect of a dwindling competitive window.

That’s exactly the situation the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in. On the other hand, New Jersey has emerged from a rebuild. They have a young core and look to be competitive for the next few seasons. The team would have done much better in targeting a younger goaltender.

A Missed Opportunity for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Given the ultimate return for Markstrom, why couldn’t the Leafs have tossed in this year’s 23rd-overall pick and a prospect? The Flames seemed content with Kevin Bahl, a player who put up 11 points in 82 games. Sure, Bahl is a physical, big-bodied defenseman. But surely the Leafs could have enticed Calgary with someone else.

What seems even more baffling is that New Jersey didn’t give up this year’s 10th overall pick. Instead, they gave up next year’s pick. If things go well for New Jersey, that pick could be in the late first round. Otherwise, the Flames have to wait till 2026 to get the pick.

Perhaps the Flames know something about Markstrom we know. Perhaps Calgary feels that Markstrom’s age will play a huge role in his future performance.

Perhaps the Leafs saw all of this and figured that paying $6 million a season for two years of a mid-30s goaltender wasn’t worth giving up a first-round pick.

Despite these reflections, in my estimation, the Leafs missed an opportunity. They could have landed a solid starting goaltender like Markstrom for a relatively low price. Markstrom could have played in tandem with Joe Woll to start the season and ramp up as the year went along.

Only time will tell if New Jersey fleeced the Devils in this deal. In the meantime, Leafs management must be more aggressive in pursuing these sorts of opportunities.


There are too many question marks to address. Adding a solid goaltender would go a long way toward answering the biggest questions heading into this offseason.