The Vancouver Canucks are hoping to re-sign goalie Jacob Markstrom and add a top-six forward prior to the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 24.
"That's our goal," general manager Jim Benning told Sportsnet on Thursday. "Jacob is an important guy in our locker room. He was a player we thought we could develop into a No. 1 goaltender. We've seen him get better and better every year. He's had some interruptions this year with his father, but we're past that now. We need him to be kind of where he left off last year."
Markstrom is 8-8-3 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in 19 games this season. The 29-year-old, who twice missed time this season after his father died, is in the final season of a three-year contract and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
He's played at least 60 games with the Canucks in each of the past two seasons and is 84-85-26 with a 2.73 GAA and .912 save percentage in 205 games (194 starts) for Vancouver since he was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers for goalie Roberto Luongo on March 4, 2014.
Video: TOR@VAN: Markstrom denies Petan at the doorstep
Canucks backup goalie Thatcher Demko is out with a concussion sustained during practice Wednesday. He's 7-4-1 with a 3.00 GAA and .906 save percentage in 12 games this season.
"Thatcher is a young goalie in this league and he's learning what it takes to be competitive and consistent every night," Markstrom said. "I think this is a good learning experience for him and we think he'll get even better down the road."
Vancouver (15-12-4) is fifth in the Pacific Division, three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
The Canucks, who host the Carolina Hurricanes at Rogers Arena on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, FS-CR, NHL.TV), are also looking to bolster their top-six forward group. The top line of J.T Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser are their three leading scorers, and each has at least 28 points. Bo Horvat (25 points), Tanner Pearson (20) and Josh Leivo (17) are the only other forwards with more than 15.
Video: BUF@VAN: Miller scores PPG in OT
"I try to keep in contact with all the other general managers in the League and if there's something that fits and makes sense, we'll look at it," Benning said. "I like the chemistry we had in the team at the start of the year. I thought we had a good combination of youth and skill and speed and some veteran players that provided the glue for us and could kill penalties. I'm excited to see what our group looks like when we get healthy, and then we'll go from there."
The Canucks are without forwards Micheal Ferland (upper body), Brandon Sutter (groin) and Tyler Motte (upper body). Ferland was injured in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
"He doesn't have another concussion; that's not the problem," Benning said. "We're hoping to do whatever we need to do from an organizational standpoint to help him get better because I think we're a better team with him in our lineup. I don't know how long he'll be out for, but I think we'll get him back."