CALGARY - On the eve of the trade deadline, Alex Tanguay was nowhere to be found during the Calgary Flames morning practice.
Had he been dealt? Was his locker stall being emptied? Neither. And by Tuesday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline that shouldn't change.
"I am not trading Alex Tanguay," Flames GM Darryl Sutter said on Monday afternoon. "Alex Tanguay is one of the top left wingers in the National Hockey League and he'll be a pretty good player for us down the stretch."
The veteran winger missed practice while undergoing a precautionary MRI after suffering a stinger in the first period of Sunday's 2-1 win over Minnesota. The results of that test will be more important to Sutter than what happens at the deadline.
Tanguay has another year left on his contract at US$5.375 million and has been the subject of trade rumours all season. After saying that Tanguay wouldn't be traded, Sutter hinted that it's doubtful Calgary would be a major player on Tuesday.
This is a franchise, after all, which at previous trade deadlines has acquired only Marcus Nilson (2004), Jamie Lundmark (2006) and David Hale (2007).
The Flames did deal for defenceman Jim Vandermeer last week and Calgary's GM does not seem eager to pull the trigger on another move.
"I don't know if we have any holes right now," said Sutter. "If the playoffs started tomorrow, we know where we'd be."
Which, through 63 games, is atop the ultra-competitive Northwest Division. With Sunday's win over the Wild, the Flames (33-22-8) have reeld off four consecutive wins - three of which came on the road, the other over the NHL-best Detroit Red Wings.
With the team's hot streak of late, many inside the Flames dressing room are hoping there will not be a shake-up to the chemistry.
"The way we're playing, you'd hate to mess that up," said forward Daymond Langkow, one of 10 Calgary players who could be eligible for unrestricted free agency if a contract extension is not signed by July 1. "I think we have a good thing going, and a team that can do it. But (trades) are not my decision. That's up to the GM."
After a terrible start to the season, which initially sparked the Tanguay trade speculation in the fall, the Flames have maneuvered from the cellar to third in the conference.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla believes the team is an enviable position to make a strong push late in the regular season.
"I like our team and know what we are capable of," said Iginla. "But we can't control what happens, so we'll all watch and we're curious to see what will."
With Tanguay presumably remaining in southern Alberta, another left-winger could be in trade discussion. Kristian Huselius has had his name floating in trade circles over the last two weeks, while his production has steadily declined.
The streaky 29-year-old, who was not made available to the media on Monday, has not scored a goal since Jan. 16 and has an expiring contract.
Sutter said earlier in the year that he hopes to re-sign both Langkow and Huselius, who will be due for a raise from his $1.4 million salary. Talks have commenced with Langkow, and Sutter even spoke with the 31-year-old Monday, but the GM was non-committal of whether or not Huselius is part of the team's future plans.
In part because many Flames have had their names come up in trade rumour and innuendo over the past number of weeks, Sutter visited with the leaders of his team Monday to help calm the nerves of even some veterans who admitted to being tight around the collar.
"It was very clear what I told them: outside information is not real information - it's just gossip," said Sutter. "Our core group knows how I feel about them. I think that's important. The trade deadline does not change how I feel moving forward."