EDMONTON (CP) - The Edmonton Oilers have kicked a few tires. And taken more than a few calls from other teams heading into the NHL trade deadline.
"I think we're still making inquiries and seeing what's available out there," Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson said Monday. "We're always looking to see what we can do to help our team, be it in the short-term or the long-term. "At this point, I wouldn't want to characterize us as being in either the buying or the selling mode," Howson added.
That's not for lack of trying on the part of other teams.
GM Kevin Lowe and Howson have been taking inquiries on several players - notably captain Jason Smith and forwards Joffrey Lupul, Raffi Torres and Petr Sykora - since a 4-1 loss in Minnesota on Sunday to wrap up the road trip.
The Oilers haven't been shopping the foursome around the league and aren't looking to move them, Howson insists, but there's been considerable interest in all of them.
It's possible, and perhaps likely, that the Oilers won't make much of a splash by Tuesday's 3 p.m. ET deadline. The only player they've put on the trading block is fourth-line forward Brad Winchester.
The player expected to generate the most calls as the deadline approaches is Ryan Smyth, who'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
The Oilers talked with Toronto-based agent Don Meehan again Monday about a new multiyear contract for the veteran left-winger, who is believed to be seeking at least US$5 million a season over a five-year term.
"We're still talking," Howson said. "Everything has been very cordial and open.
"We're continuing to have what we consider productive talks. We're hopeful we're going to come to an agreement and get a contract done, but there's nothing to report as of now."
Speculation has been the Oilers will trade Smyth, who leads the team with 31 goals and 22 assists, if a deal isn't in place by the deadline, but that's not necessarily the case.
"Our preference is to have something soon, but that's not going to get in the way of getting the right deal," Howson said.
The Oilers are coming off a seven-game road trip in which they managed just six of a possible 14 points and failed to move up in the Western Conference.
Going into play Monday, Edmonton sat ninth in the West at 30-27-6 with 19 games left in the regular season.