The Avalanche is not looking for a rental player before Wednesday's NHL trade deadline. While the one-step-away Avs of old could often afford to gamble on expensive rentals and part with young prospects or draft picks and justify it to their fans, the Avs of the present are thinking beyond this spring.

A young team in the midst of its most successful season in years, the Avs are not about to trade away first-round draft picks or top prospects in their system with the kinds of trades the St. Louis Blues made Friday — when they acquired Ryan Miller and Steve Ott from Buffalo in exchange for a boatload of young talent.

Here's where it gets tricky, though: While the Avs cannot justify importing expensive rentals, as they could in the days of Ray Bourque, Theo Fleury and Rob Blake, neither can they be stuck in the situation of having essentially their own rental player on the roster beyond Wednesday in the form of top players with expiring contracts.

That's where it could get interesting with a player such as Paul Stastny. While the Avs would like to re-sign as many players in the last year of their contracts as they can, Stastny's situation is trickier because of his potential status as an unrestricted free agent July 1.

If the Avs can't reach agreement on a new deal by Wednesday — or lack the confidence they can sign him at some point before July 1 — it is possible Stastny could be traded. The worst of all worlds for the Avs would be to lose a top player such as Stastny for nothing on the unrestricted free-agent market this summer.

"To me, it's something I really don't worry about. You worry about (this week) a little bit, but we have a good thing going here and everyone realizes that," Stastny said Saturday. "You want to keep winning and don't want to break that chemistry, but at the same time if something happens, it happens. It's just part of the business. Some things I can't control and I just worry about what I can control — and that's playing hockey."

The Avs would not comment on any ongoing negotiations with Stastny toward a new contract, and Stastny's agent, Matt Keator, did not respond for comment. If Stastny is dealt, Avs fans can probably expect a young defenseman in return, someone who can play 20-25 minutes per night, someone with time still left on his existing deal or, if not, restricted free-agent status — but not unrestricted.

It would seem that the Avs' most-preferred course for the rest of this season is to retain their core group — Stastny included — and why not? The Avs have been the biggest surprise success story of the season in the NHL, and a big disruption could have unintended consequences.

"The chemistry is great on this team," Avalanche executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic said last week. "It's a great dressing room. For us, if we do nothing, we'll be happy. If we can improve our team, and have that vision that whatever we do here is going to be good for the next two or three years, then we'll try to make our team better. But if it's status quo, we'll be happy with that as well."

Avs coach and vice president of hockey operations Patrick Roy echoes Sakic's thoughts. He said last week he is "very happy with the team I have right now. If there is a situation where you can make your team even better, you have to evaluate it, but I like this group and I believe in this group."

Stastny is making $6.6 million this season. He is one of five potential unrestricted free agents, joining John Mitchell (current salary: $1.1 million), Andre Benoit ($900,000), Cory Sarich ($2 million) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere ($1.5 million).