The Vancouver Canucks want to upgrade the top of their lineup this offseason, general manager Jim Benning said Monday, after they focused on the bottom end in free agency last year.
Vancouver signed depth forwards Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller on July 1, 2018, the first day of free agency, citing the need to add character and toughness to support a lineup transitioning toward skill and youth.
The Canucks went 35-36-11 this season, finishing nine points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. It was the fourth straight season they missed the playoffs.
"Going forward now, if we are going to add through free agency, we want to try to add top-four defensemen or top-six forwards, so I think our needs in that way have changed," Benning said. "I haven't been shy about stating that we would like to improve our defense. There are different avenues to try to do that, so we're looking at all those avenues."
Benning isn't sure if that will include finding a replacement for top defenseman Alexander Edler, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Edler, who has played all of his 814 NHL games over 13 seasons with the Canucks, reiterated after the season that his preference is to remain in Vancouver, but he remains unsigned.