ST. LOUIS — Sure, the Calgary Flames would have benefited from adding a scoring winger such as Dustin Penner.
Likewise, they would have also benefited by nabbing defenceman Rostislav Klesla to shore up the second blueline pairing.
But the prices on trade deadline day were too high for what the Flames can afford to pay these days, and Jay Feaster wisely avoided a shopping spree.
After years of paying designer-store prices at seemingly every turn when Darryl Sutter was in the GM chair, the Flames couldn’t afford to go with that mentality Monday.
Feaster, the acting GM, didn’t become caught up in frenzy.
As much as everyone wants to revel in what the Flames have done lately — an 18-5-6 record since a Dec. 23 shootout win in Dallas — they’re not a sure-fire Stanley Cup champion.
They’re not even a slam-dunk playoff team.
Throw in the impact of all those past deals — no second- or third-round choices at this year’s draft and a limited calibre of prospects in the system — and the Flames could only have been a trade-deadline player by maxing out the credit card.
Feaster addressed a couple of glaring needs by nabbing veteran left-winger Fredrik Modin from the Atlanta Thrashers for a 2011 seventh-round draft choice and claiming young defenceman Brett Carson off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes, But with those came the long-term vision of utmost importance — that it was important to not shell out anything more.
And the players realized that adding a player with the potential to be a major factor would have cost somebody from their room, too.
“Guys were kinda wondering what might happen,” said Flames d-man Cory Sarich. “We’ve been doing some good things out there, and
I don’t think you want to break that up. We’re in a playoff spot right now, and we’re fighting for a playoff spot, and you’ve seen what we can do as a team with the guys we have here. I’m glad to see we get to try and finish it out.”
Everyone was happy to sing from the same hymn book.
“I’m happy we stayed status quo,” Flames head coach Brent Sutter said. “They know what I’m about. I know what they’re about. We’ve been through an awful lot as a group together, and we get to forge ahead as a group together. We’ve battled hard to put ourselves in this situation, and when you do that, you’ve got to be very careful, because you can disrupt the team and it can go the other way on you quickly.”
Even if the Flames didn’t have to deal away a roster player for an impact skater, they couldn’t surrender the necessary draft choices.
To grab Penner from the Edmonton Oilers, the Los Angeles Kings gave up Colten Teubert, a first-round pick and then a third-rounder, which becomes a second-round pick if they win the Stanley Cup.
The Vancouver Canucks surrendered a third-rounder and defenceman Evan Oberg for former Flames winger Christopher Higgins, a currently injured third-liner who is a pending UFA.
The Washington Capitals gave up a second-rounder and a player for Jason Arnott and then a third-rounder and a player for Dennis Wideman.
Those teams are in a position to make a run and have the pipeline for those kind of transactions this year.
The Flames are not in that boat and may not become a playoff team.
Feaster avoiding the temptation was a good first step to rebuilding this team for the long-term future.