CALGARY - Shopping is currently one of Jay Feasterís favourite hobbies.
The Calgary Flames GM has said more than once over the last few weeks heís interested in improving his team in any way possible, and that teams looking to move salary ahead of the coming season will be on his list of calls to make.
If heís tired of lifting the phone to his ear, maybe he can skip the middle man and just sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet.
There are plenty of big names still unsigned, with stud Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber, Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos and Los Angeles Kings cornerstone Drew Doughty still yet to come to terms with their current clubs.
Of course, those teams would be nuts to not match whatever came forth.
And giving up high draft picks if they choose not to may not be part of Feasterís future philosophy.
Still, there are some intriguing situations that seem ripe for the testing.
The Washington Capitals sit nearly a couple of million dollars over the US$64.3-million cap ceiling, and have former Calgary Hitmen blueliner Karl Alzner sitting unsigned as a restricted free agent.
Alzner hasnít been an offensive dynamo in D.C., but the 22-year-old was a big-time plus player suiting up for north of 20 minutes most nights down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Heís considered a shut-down defender for the Capitals, and the Flames could use a legitimate top-four blueliner with Robyn Regehr gone and a lot of uncertainty behind Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich.
There are some talented youngsters in the Flames system showing their stuff at the development camp this week, but none are as seasoned as Alzner at the NHL level.
Trades are also an option, with the Caps the most obvious choice of partner thanks to their overages.
If they could somehow pry Mike Green away ó yes, theyíd have to dump some of their own salaries by the start of the season to carry Greenís $5.25-million price tag ó the Flames blueline would skyrocket in value.
Alzner makes the most sense economically, but after all the buzz about the Flamesí pitch for star centre Brad Richards July 1, a sexier swap might include someone like Alex Semin, whoís set to become an unrestricted free agent a year from now.
Tough to say how heíd fare without translator Alex Ovechkin on his squad or playing for a coach like Brent Sutter, but itís a good bet the Flames will look elsewhere for a serious playmaker.
The Sabres have little breathing room with the new owner spending freely, so considering their recent conversations, itís possible the Flames could be looking to pick talks back up again if Buffalo decides to dump one of its many talented forwards.
Feaster plans on going on vacation early in August, but before then, anticipate plenty of behind-the-scenes action even if none of it ever comes to light. And if he hasnít been satisfied, itíll be an equally busy few weeks after his return leading into the fall.