James Duthie had a chance to go one-on-one with Flames General Manager Jay Feaster on Countdown to TradeCentre. The Flames have recently played their way into the top eight of the Western Conference playoff picture.
James Duthie: First things first, you're in a playoff position for the first time in exactly 100 days. What's behind this resurgence since Dec. 23?
Jay Feaster: Well I think it's a number of things. One is, that the guys have really bought into what the coaching staff has been trying to get them to do all season, and I think the other thing the guys have bought into is the idea of breaking it down and trying to keep it very simple. Our focus is on three-game segments and we're trying to take things one shift at a time, not get ahead of ourselves, not worrying about how many teams we're chasing or who, and really just focus on our game. Our work ethic has been very good. We're getting contributions throughout the lineup, and again, it's a matter right now of an entire group being bought in and fully invested.
Duthie: A month and a half ago, you guys looked like definite sellers at the deadline. Is it fair to say now that you're definitive buyers?
Feaster: Well, certainly the way we're going right now, it does change things. There's no question that our mandate has not changed. From the time I was named acting general manager at the end of December, the mandate was clear, and that was to make the playoffs right now. I said at that time we needed to be intellectually honest with ourselves as the deadline approached as to whether we were a buyer or seller. And the great part is, that the way the team has played, they've put us in a position that I think, we really do have to ask, what can we do to solidify our spot?
Duthie: So what can you do? What's your No. 1 need heading towards the trade deadline?
Feaster: We still need some scoring up front. And obviously, everyone is looking for that, that's a difficult thing to come by. We do have some depth on defence although we're getting nicked up, we're getting banged a little bit back there. We could use another forward, we could use another defenceman, but we're going to have to see as we move forward really, what we can accomplish. Because, whatever we do we don't want to sacrifice the future. We don't want to mortgage the future for the present.
Duthie: You don't have much cap space to speak of. Does it have to be a case of dollars-in then dollars-out to make deals at the deadline.
Feaster: Actually it's not that critical of a situation. As you know, we have a one-way contract in the minors right now in Ales Kotalik. That's $3 million. We are obviously a team that continues to be in an LTI (long term injury) situation. So the cap situation for us right now as we approach the deadline is not as dire as perhaps it was at the beginning of the season.