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Markstrom believes Flames will be better in 2022-23

Derek Leung / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Regardless of allegiances and rooting interests, one question has been on the minds of NHL fans after the Calgary Flames' roller-coaster offseason permeated the news cycle: After all that, did the team actually improve?

Count Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom among those answering in the affirmative.

"In my mind and in my head, I really believe that we're gonna be better this year," he told Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman during the NHL's European Player Media Tour in Paris this week.

Calgary captured first place in the Pacific Division in 2021-22 thanks to its third 50-win season in franchise history. The notion that the Flames could outdo the previous campaign after losing 100-point-getters Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk seemed impossible at multiple points this summer.

Even Markstrom had doubts, but general manager Brad Treliving relieved his concerns.

"Thoughts go through your mind, for sure," he said. "But I think really, really quick (Treliving) really calmed everyone down and said, 'We're not gonna rebuild, we're gonna be competitive and wait and see what we can add up. It's not just gonna be lay down and see what's left over.'

"He really went out there and took what he wanted. I think we've got a great team on paper, and now we've got to put it together on the ice."

Treliving acquired Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar from the Florida Panthers in the blockbuster Tkachuk trade and landed top unrestricted free-agent forward Nazem Kadri to reclaim the Flames' status as Western Conference contenders.

Calgary also still has a Vezina finalist in the crease, and Markstrom is expecting even bigger things from himself this coming campaign.

"I obviously played a lot of hockey games (last season), but I want to play more," he said. "There's so many games, looking back, that should've went the other way, that we should've won that we didn't.

"Those kind of things, you'd like to adjust them and fix them and work and just be on a high level for a longer time and the dips to be a little shorter."

Markstrom authored a sterling .922 save percentage and 2.22 goals against average in 63 appearances in 2021-22. He led all netminders with nine shutouts.

The 32-year-old has four years remaining on a deal that carries a $6-million cap hit.

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