OTTAWA -- Kevin Lowe has a whopping 22 trade offers on his desk right now.
Almost every GM he spoke with over the last three days (and he has the cauliflower ear to prove he's spoken with almost all of them) left a little something on the table for him to think about.
And he's definitely thinking.
"I don't like sitting around," said Lowe, taking a brief moment from the phone lines to meet with reporters yesterday evening. "I got here on Tuesday and started making some calls to get a sense of what everybody is doing.
"And pretty much every manager I've talked to, there's some sort of offer, from our side or their side, that's sitting there. From there you start making your way to what could be a deal."
He says 22 is not an unusually high number, and cautioned against getting your hopes up in anticipation of a blockbuster.
"I am excited to do something, but we're not in the position we were in last year where we came here thinking we had to do something," said Lowe, who was desperate to make a deal last June but couldn't find a dance partner.
"We're not in the same state, not even remotely close, to what we were last year. Most managers, if not all of them, at the end of our conversations, said 'You guys are set up well.' Our guys are signed, a lot of our better players are well priced, we don't have a lot of UFAs."
The name at the top of many discussions is Joni Pitkanen, whom the bloggers have going to Ottawa, Columbus, Carolina, Los Angeles and Florida. Lowe says nothing involving Pitkanen has ever progressed beyond tire kicking and expects the Finnish defenceman to be with the club in training camp.
He is not shopping him around.
"It's sometimes helpful that the name is out there because you get calls on it, but we were happy with Joni and we're happy to have him back. If (a deal) is going to benefit our hockey club, I'm willing to listen, but if I was a betting man I'd say Joni is going to be back with us this year."
NOT DESPERATE TO DEAL
While he's not adverse to swinging a deal today or tomorrow - hence the 22 calls - he says he's also content to wait till July 1 and see what he can get for nothing (other than a half-ton full of money) before giving up a warm body.
There will be plenty of time in the summer, or fall, for that matter, to shuffle players.
"I'm not going to completely sell the farm for next year," he said, adding he's not interested in rushing to fix something that isn't necessarily all that broken. "I'm not going to be too bold in moving players out till the season gets going.
"I'm not sitting here thinking we're a favourite for the Stanley Cup next year, we still have to get into the playoffs, but I'm not quite as (eager to make a trade) as I was last year. We're feeling good where we are.
"In a perfect world, if we can add a player or two higher up the food chain, we'll do it. We're going to make some changes that's going to add to a pretty good group.
"We wouldn't mind adding a forward and a little bit of grit."
It just might not be today. But it won't be for lack of trying. He's been holed up in his room for days, never venturing out for more than a few minutes to catch some air.
"Then next thing you know you run into somebody in the lobby and start conversing and it's 'Oh crap, I've got to go, I've got to get back up there.' Lowe did say he'll almost certainly do a minor deal for another draft pick - right now they don't have any in the second or third rounds thanks to the Dustin Penner signing - and leave the door open for one of the other 21 offers to be sweetened enough to his liking.
"We can get a couple of extra picks if we want them," he said. "We're sitting at five picks, we're probably going to get another one and have six, so we'll get some good players out of that."
FIRST ROUND - TONIGHT IN OTTAWA, 5 P.M. (TSN)
Round 1: 22nd overall
ROUNDS 2-7 - TOMORROW, 8 A.M. (NHL NETWORK)
Round 2: No pick
Round 3: No pick
Round 4: 103rd overall
Round 5: 133rd overall
Round 6: 163rd overall
Round 7: 193rd overall