The NHL's trade deadline goes next Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET and GMs are using the downtime between meetings this week to lay the groundwork for deals. "I think it's getting a little closer," Columbus Blue Jackets GM Doug MacLean said Monday. "I've had a couple of conversations today with people being interested. So we'll see where it goes. "
MacLean is a clear seller and up for grabs are winger Anson Carter and defenceman Bryan Berard - both unrestricted free agents July 1.
Not available at this point is winger Fredrik Modin, also slated to be unrestricted July 1 but currently in contract talks with MacLean.
"We want to get it done and I've made real good progress," MacLean said of talks with Modin's agent Don Meehan. "I would anticipate that happening."
Anaheim Ducks GM Brian Burke would like to add a player or two for his contending squad but is frustrated by the high asking price right now.
"The deals that have been put in front of me haven't been worth spending a lot of time on," said Burke. "They've been short, profanity-laced conversations. They ask for the same group of young guys and I'm not moving any of those guys for a rental (pending free agent).
"It's just not going to happen. I don't know if the prices are too high for other people but they don't suit me. I'm not interested in anything that's been thrown at me yet."
Burke was in on the Peter Forsberg trade talks last week but balked at the price when the name of Corey Perry came up. Other sellers are also going after the Ducks' best young players.
"They're very short conversations," said Burke. "If anybody doesn't know how to swear they should sit in on one of these conversations because they'd know in a hurry. . . .
"We have good young players in our group and we're not putting them in deals for rentals. It's that simple."
First-round draft picks were also the cost of doing business in the Forsberg and Ladislav Nagy deals and it's what other sellers are asking for right now. It's a steep price for a rental player.
"Let's wait 'til you get closer to the trading deadline," said veteran New York Rangers GM Glen Sather, who predicts the price will come down. "This is like 30 guys at the used car lot right now, and every guy wants the same four or five cars. The guy doing the selling is asking a lot more. When you get closer to the trading deadline, it won't be that way."
Ottawa Senators GM John Muckler hopes the price will drop.
"Some people think the market's already set," Muckler said, referring to the first-round picks. "If it is, I don't think we'll dive in at these prices. We're not doing to deal our future off to add another player to our hockey club. We went out and we got (Mike) Comrie and we spent a lot of our money there so we don't have that much left.
"We'd like to add somebody but we're not going to reduce our roster."
Muckler's Senators and the rival Toronto Maple Leafs are the two clubs veteran winger Gary Roberts said he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause to leave the Florida Panthers.
"We haven't found the right fit ourselves just yet but we'll continue to look," said Leafs GM John Ferguson. "We're familiar with Gary. I think everyone is. He played for us, played a long time for us. (But) he's not the only one (available)."
The St. Louis Blues have yet to officially decide if they're sellers but it's just a matter of time. It's believed both veteran wingers Keith Tkachuk and Bill Guerin - both unrestricted free agents July 1 - will be made available but the Blues keep winning games.
"We've got some pretty good decisions to make," said Blues GM Larry Pleau. "The team has played so well, it really has."
Then again if another team makes an offer the Blues can't refuse, that makes it easier to sell off Tkachuk and Guerin.
"I guess you're always hoping the compensation helps you make that decision," said Pleau.
Defenceman Eric Brewer, another UFA July 1, may also be dealt unless he signs a contract extension with the Blues.
"We would like to sign Eric Brewer, there's no doubt about it," said Pleau. "But we'll have to wait and see where that goes. We'll continue our talks with him."
The red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins are a dangerous team right now and could possibly use a player or two.
"It has to make sense for us," said Penguins GM Ray Shero. "To me, I acquit it to July 1. When you go to sign a free agent and there's multiple bidders on a free agent then you have to have in your own mind what you're prepared to pay.
"That's the way we're going to approach it here. We have a plan in place."