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Nonis ready to pull the trigger on a trade if deal makes sense for Canucks

Last year the Vancouver Canucks general manager dealt away two second-round draft picks, plus third-and fourth-rounders to pick up players as his team fought desperately to make the playoffs.

The Canucks missed the post-season and none of the players Nonis acquired - goaltender Mika Noronen and defencemen Eric Weinrich, Keith Carney or Sean Brown - are still with the team.

Nonis isn't making any apologies for last year's deals as the Feb. 27 trade deadline draws near.

"Last year we had a team we knew we couldn't keep together," he said. "We also felt if they had been able to get in, we had a chance to do something.

"If we were in that position again, I think we would do it."

Nonis said he'd like to add a centre to replace Ryan Kesler, who underwent hip surgery. He'd also like to add another body to his defence.

"If we can add depth at both of those positions we'll do it," he said. "If not, we'll have to find a way of making do with what we have, including the players in Manitoba."

Some names tossed around this year are rental centres like Bryan Smolinski of Chicago and Bill Guerin of St. Louis.

Nonis has a first-round pick and three second-round selections he could offer but the deal will have to be right before he trades away the Canucks future

"You can only move a large number of picks so many times before you have really reduced your chances of having a strong reserve list and top prospects," he said. "Over the years our team has moved a great number of picks."

Defenceman Sami Salo becomes a free agent this summer and the Canucks may have trouble re-signing him but it's doubtful Nonis would trade him.

Centre Brendan Morrison's name is often mentioned in trade talks but he also has 14 goals and 34 points on a team that has managed just 150 goals this year, the least among any of the Western Conference playoff contenders.

Some of the other Western Conference teams have already made moves. The Nashville Predators made a huge splash Thursday when they acquired superstar Peter Forsberg form Philadelphia.

The Calgary Flames have added Craig Conroy, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau. The Dallas Stars have acquired Ladislav Nagy and the Nashville Predators picked up Vitaly Vishnevski.

Nonis thinks some teams are paying a big price for temporary help.

"That's one of the reason why we aren't close to a deal," he said.

"There are players that are out there that I think teams will move. Some of those players would help us but their price tags haven't been to our liking. If that doesn't change then there will be very little movement."

The Canucks also find themselves in a little bit of a different position this year. Heading into Thursday night's play Vancouver was first in the Northwest Division with 68 points from a 32-21-4 record.

Both Calgary and Minnesota are on Vancouver's heels in the race for first place in the division and a third-seed in the Western Conference come the playoffs. But with seven points separating the eighth and ninth-place positions, Vancouver would need a major collapse to fall out of playoff contention.

Nonis said his phone has rang but nothing has interested him.

"Everyone is talking but I don't get the sense that there's a lot of people that are close to deals," he said. "I'm not close to one."


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