Santa may have already visited two months ago, but Calgary Flames acting GM Jay Feaster has a new wish list he’d like filled.
Feaster admitted he’s hoping for a depth defenceman and a top-nine forward before Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
“That’s the Christmas wish list. I don’t know if Santa can deliver those or not,” he said.
Unless something big falls into his lap, Feaster expects to only tinker with his team, which has surged into the playoff picture over the past 30 games.
There are two reasons for that: The way the team has performed, and a belief the Flames can’t continue giving away high draft picks.
“If there’s an opportunity we think is too good to pass up, we’ll do it,” Feaster said. “If I come out here with all of you Monday afternoon and say we didn’t make a move, that’s going to be alright, too, as far as I’m concerned, because I really like this hockey club and have no interest in breaking up this team.
“I think this team, these guys, have earned the opportunity to try and see this thing through.”
The Flames have the salary cap space for adding players, but Feaster is handcuffed by his team’s lack of draft picks this summer — no second- or third-round selections — and doesn’t want to continue what he’s called deficit spending.
“Even if you can get a guy for a third-round pick, it’s a third-round pick next year,” he said. “Then, you run the risk of a team saying, ‘I already got a team with a third this year and it’s more valuable to me than a third next year, but I’m willing to take a second.’ Is that where you want to be? No.”
Feaster said he doesn’t foresee selling off his pending unrestricted free agents, such as Curtis Glencross, Brendan Morrison, Alex Tanguay, Steve Staios and Anton Babchuk, because of the job they’ve done pulling into the playoff picture, although that could always change.
However, he does believe he knows who in the system is expendable for the right price after much discussion with the Abbotsford Heat coaching staff, pro scouts, player personnel director Duane Sutter and development coach Ron Sutter.
“We are at a point where we’re comfortable when teams talk to us about our prospects, which ones we wouldn’t consider trading and which guys we might use to land somebody,” he said.
The Flames will likely be quiet in the final hours, but Feaster doesn’t believe the day will be a dud.
Even after all the trades which have taken place in the past few weeks.
“There are some teams going into this weekend recognizing where they are in the standings, recognizing they have unrestricted free agents, so you’re going to have teams willing to move players,” he said. “I’m not a believer the media won’t have anything to do Monday. There will be deals. I think there’s going to be a lot more activity.”
Just don’t expect to see Feaster trying to make a mark simply in an effort to force president Ken King to remove the “acting” part of his title.
“This isn’t about having to make a splash to get that taken off. When I accepted the opportunity in December, Ken was very clear we would address the situation at the end of the season and he wanted to make sure I was prepared to do that. I am.
“I don’t run into Ken’s office and say, ‘Look at my record is. Shouldn’t we do something?’ We made a commitment, have an agreement and both sides will live with it and feel good about it.
“I don’t feel any pressure, whatsoever, from Ken or ownership I have to do something major.”