CALGARY, AB -- Looking back at Friday, July 5, the term "free agent frenzy" could be deemed a vast understatement.
The free agency period opened at 10:00 AM MST and it didn't take long for the first blockbuster signing to come in; Daniel Alfredsson, the long-time Senator, opted to head into free agency rather than re-sign with Ottawa, inking a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings.
Shortly after, the news broke that the Columbus Blue Jackets had signed forward Nathan Horton to a seven-year deal and the deals kept piling in. Former Flame Andrew Ference signed a four-year contract with Edmonton, the Lightning signed Valtteri Filppula to a five-year contract, the Maple Leafs announced a seven-year deal for David Clarkson and a five-year contract for Tyler Bozak.
The market truly was open for business.
For Jay Feaster and the Flames, it was a relatively quiet day compared to their counterparts around the League. They chose to stay away from long-term, expensive contracts, instead re-signing a few RFA's, signing Corban Knight and Karri Ramo and acquiring defenceman Kris Russell from the St. Louis Blues.
There was no "big splash" signings and even the rumor mill was quiet when it came to things on the Calgary front. However, this doesn't come as a disappointment as the organization wasn't looking to free agency to fill any holes for the 2013-14 season.
"It was a productive day," Feaster told the media assembled at McMahon Stadium on Friday afternoon. "At our meeting with ownership on May 9, we presented a preliminary list of unrestricted free agents at that time. One of the things we said to ownership was that we didn't believe the answers to our problems, our situations, our needs were necessarily going to found in unrestricted free agency."
Feaster and the rest of hockey operations met with the club's pro scouts prior to the NHL Draft in New Jersey last week, running through all of the potential free agents and completing a list of the players they felt would be a good fit with the Flames. The list, Feaster noted, wasn't very long. They also determined what they felt the market would be on players come July 5 and what the team would be willing to sign players for.
"Our cap space was not and is not burning a hole in my pocket," he smiled. "We worked our list and we were in on a couple of things and thought we might be able to land one or two. As it turns out, we were not and as we stand here right now, we're just as happy to be where we are.
"The one thing we didn't do, and I think it's something we have done in the past ... we've given a lot of money for a long period of time. It puts you in a tough situation because typically when you're doing these deals today, you end up having to give full no-trade, no-moves or partial no-trade, no-moves and it makes the job a lot tougher."
Rather than potentially overspend on a free agent, the team wants to explore the trade route over the course of the off-season. It is here, according to Feaster, that the team has the best chance of garnering the pieces they were unable to find in free agency.
"We're not afraid to venture into the trade market," he stated. "We've seen that it has been already a pretty robust trade market. We think that will continue.
"One of the things that we will do, coming out of (Friday), our number crunchers will crunch the numbers and see which teams have put themselves in a tight spot. We'll go after those teams in terms of acquisitions."
Given the deals handed out during the "free agent frenzy", the Flames could have more than a few potential trade partners this summer.
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