VANCOUVER (CP) - The Vancouver Canucks can use help at forward but general manager Dave Nonis says he will be patient this off-season.
"If we can improve our team in any area you look to do it," Nonis said Tuesday in a year-end news conference. "We are going to remain patient and make sure the moves we make help our team win."
"If there's not a deal there to be made, if there's not a free agent that helps us, you don't go chase him."
The Canucks were eliminated from the Western Conference semifinals in five games by the Anaheim Ducks. At the start of the season many people doubted Vancouver would even make the playoffs, but the team set franchise records with 49 wins and 105 points.
Coach Alain Vigneault said he hasn't met with Nonis to discuss what he thinks Vancouver needs.
Scoring was a problem all year for the Canucks. Nonis admitted he may be willing to give up a defenceman if it means landing a forward with scoring talent.
"If we were to make a deal, more often than not, you are looking to bring back a forward," he said. "If we can make a deal that helps us bring some more high-end talent up front, that would be our first choice."
Vancouver has defencemen Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa and Willie Mitchell all signed. They also have young players like Alexander Edler and Luc Bourdon.
Nonis belted a couple of home runs with his moves last summer but also hit a couple of bloopers.
He looked like a genius for obtaining goaltender Roberto Luongo from Florida in a trade involving Todd Bertuzzi. Luongo was brilliant and has been nominated for the Hart and Vezina Trophies, plus the Lester B. Pearson Award. Bertuzzi missed most of the season after back surgery and was traded to Detroit.
Mitchell, signed as a free agent, has shown leadership skills that have already earmarked him as the next Canucks captain. Nonis also got Bieksa to agree to a US$525,000 contract.
A couple of deals didn't go as planned. Free agent Jan Bulis, signed for $1.3 million, went from a 20-goal scorer to a penalty killer. Forward Marc Chouinard was a bust and Rory Fitzpatrick is a sixth or seventh defenceman.
Nonis must deal with two unrestricted free agents this summer - forward Ryan Kesler and defenceman Lukas Krajicek - and make a decision on which of the 11 unrestricted free agents he will keep.
The Canucks have a dozen players under contract for next season for a total of $37.3 million.
The team can save some money by buying out two-thirds of the $1.2 million remaining on Chouinard's deal. The underachieving forward had just two goals and four points in 42 games with Vancouver and ended the season with the AHL Manitoba Moose.
Next year's salary cap is expected to increase to between $46 million and $48 million.