The Red Wings' search for their goalie of the future could conclude in free agency.
If Jacob Markstrom of the Canucks hits the open market, Detroit is reportedly 'looking to make a big pitch' for the 2019-20 All-Star.
Markstrom, 30, is said to be seeking a long-term deal worth up to $6 million per year.
Markstrom has been the Canucks' starter for the past three seasons, and the team would prefer to keep him. "We're going to get something figured out for him," GM Jim Benning said In July. "We both decided let's just wait until after the playoffs are done."
But talks haven't made much progress since. According to Elliotte Friedman, "It's been a really challenging negotiation. ... I think there’s a limit of what Vancouver’s willing to do particularly in salary."
If Markstrom does hit free agency, which begins Oct. 9, he'd be the best goalie on the market. His .918 save percentage ranked fourth in the NHL this season among goalies with at least 40 games played. Vezina winner Connor Hellenuyck posted a .922.
The Red Wings need help in net, both now and in the future. The team is moving on from Jimmy Howard, and Jonathan Bernier is entering the final year of his contract. None of its goalies in the pipeline are close to the NHL -- and none of them are considered top prospects.
But is Markstrom the answer? A five-year contract would bring him through his age-35 season, and his best years likely wouldn't coincide with the Wings' competitive timeline. The price might be a bit high, too. With $3 million already allotted for Bernier, does Detroit want almost $10 million tied up in its goalies next season?
Cheaper, shorter-term free agents might make more sense, such as Thomas Greiss, Cam Talbot or Mike Smith. Anton Khudobin of the Stars could be an option as well, but Dallas is probably inclined to re-sign him after watching him backstop the team to the Cup Finals.