The National Hockey League trade market is hot.
Jay Feaster, though, is playing it cool.
The Calgary Flames acting general manager is in no rush to become a seller as Monday's trade deadline approaches.
"If there's an opportunity we think is too good to pass up, we'll do it," said Feaster in a media scrum this week. "If I come out here with all of you on Monday afternoon and say we didn't make a move, that's going to be all right too, as far as I am concerned, because I really like this hockey club. I have no interest in breaking up this team."
Nor is he in a rush to become a buyer at the deadline, although he is entertaining offers for some depth on the blueline and, potentially, a top nine forward to add some more options up front.
"If we can improve, I would like to do that. I would like to improve our depth if we can," said Feaster.
But, in a heated market where teams are throwing first round draft picks into trades for players like Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kaberle, making a move comes with a price. And the price for an asset is more than likely to rise prior to Monday.
"You've been able to see the deals that have been made as far as what the prices have been on the trade market right now," said Feaster. "It's a pretty heated market in a lot of ways."
Back in November, when the Flames were struggling, the common refrain was to blow the team up. Trade the core players. Begin the youth movement. But, as we approach the end of February, it is a very different refrain.
Since the resignation of Darryl Sutter and the installing of Feaster as the acting general manager, the Flames have moved from the Western Conference basement to a team battling for a playoff position with a 15-5-5 record. They are scoring with regularity. They are playing hard and their work ethic is strong. They are getting solid goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff.
"We're trying to improve our hockey team if we can," said Feaster. "The thing is, as I've said all along, I really think this group, with what they have accomplished in the last couple of months, they deserve a chance to stay together. They deserve the opportunity to see this thing through and bring this thing to the fruition of being a playoff team and seeing how far we can go in the playoffs."
"If I could do something on the blue line, I would," said Feaster, noting that Adam Pardy is out of the line-up for an extended period with a shoulder injury. "And to that extent that we can add another top-nine forward, I don't think you can ever have enough of that, either.
"That's sort of the Christmas wish list. Whether Santa can deliver those or not, I don't know."
The Flames have four unrestricted free agents on the roster. Alex Tanguay, Curtis Glencross, Brendan Morrison and Anton Babchuk are all free to test the market come July 1. Often those players are the ones a team might consider trading. But, at this point, those four are playing some big roles with the team. Tanguay and Morrison are playing with Jarome Iginla, who is now in the top 10 in scoring in the NHL; Glencross has reached a personal high of 20 goals this season and Babchuk, after a rocky start with the Flames, has six goals and 15 assists and is a plus 10 in 44 games with the Flames.
It certainly doesn't sound like Feaster will be moving any of those players.
"Yes, we have a number of guys who are unrestricted free agents. The reality is, though, the way the hockey club has played over the last two months, we'll deal with those issues as we move forward," said Feaster.