Hey, wanna dance?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

It was the end of the first period when Kevin Lowe headed down from his press-box perch and locked himself in his bunker off the Oilers' dressing room.

The Oilers GM didn't emerge until long after the Sunday afternoon's game was over.

It's that time of year. The NHL trade deadline is Thursday. And Lowe's hockey team is going to be one of the closest watched of them all this week.

This looks to be the year of the great goalie grab. And of all the teams needing one, Edmonton is at the front of the line.

The Oilers are a team that would have at least a dozen more points in the standings this year if the Oilers had a first-rate first-string goaltender. And there are those who figure if they get one, this could be a very interesting Stanley season.

Lowe has the interesting position of not only running the team most desperate to do a deadline deal - to get that goalie - but also arguably has the most of what out-of-the-playoff teams want in exchange for an about-to-be unrestricted free agent.

Finally, after years of disastrous drafting, the Oilers have done a good job at it under Lowe's watch and have more prospects than most. Which is why he was locked in his bunker off the dressing room during a game five days before the deadline.

"We're trying to find a trading partner who will see it's smart to make a good deal right now. For the first time in a long while we're in the buying market. I've let it be known. Your best deal is going to be in Edmonton because of what we can offer. We want to do it sooner rather than later. Don't get caught getting greedy."

A HANDLE ON THINGS

The Oilers GM does think he has a handle on the way it's going to be in the deadline dealing under the new salary cap. It's going to be dramatically different.

"It looks like there's going to be a real premium on prospects. Not draft choices or players who were drafted but are still three or four years away. Prospects. High end prospects. Maybe guys off your team."

Being up to his ears in it, Lowe is probably as good a barometer as you're going to find for how the deadline dealing will pan out.

"I'm starting to think it could be quiet.

"At the end of the day, I think the asking prices are not going to be worth it.

"Teams are recognizing they have to have players in the organization."

The salary cap definitely changes the dynamics of the deadline deals.

"It's more difficult for high-end teams to overspend on free agents. Toronto and New York could give up anything and outbid everybody to replace the player. Even Philly," says Lowe.

Also different is the fact the deadline is earlier this year. There are more games left.

"If the trade deadline was back where it was, teams like Minnesota would know definitely where they were in terms of the playoffs."

GOALIES ON THE MARKET

Dwayne Roloson is one of the obvious goaltenders on the market - along with Curtis Joseph of Phoenix, likely Mika Noronen but maybe Martin Biron of Buffalo and, in a bit of a stretch, Eddie Belfour of Toronto.

Minnesota is seven points back of the Oilers in the final playoff position and have played two more games. They'd probably have to go 15-4 down the stretch to make a playoff spot now. But five of those games are against Edmonton and, potentially, Roloson.

"The way Doug operates, if it's a good deal, I think he'd do it," said Lowe.

"But if he was solidly in the top eight, I'd bet he wouldn't be trading Roloson."

Joseph is still probably the best bet.

"If Curtis is available and the deal is reasonable, we definitely have interest. He has a history here," said Lowe.

"When it gets down to it, I think most teams in the situation where they have a player who will become a free agent at the end of the year enhance the asset and stock up. It doesn't make sense not to if you have an unrestricted player and you're not going to make the playoffs."

While some might suggest he's painted himself into a corner by all but promising the populace he'll get a goalie,

Lowe says he's optimistic he'll have given his team a chance to be successful in the playoffs.

"I'm optimistic. Like you say, we've done a good job drafting the last few years. You never want to give up anybody.

"But we have some pretty desirable players. We think we can add to our team without disrupting our future."


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