Avalanche more concerned with Canucks than trade deadline

As rumors fly and deals are getting done ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline, things are quiet with the Colorado Avalanche.

The club sits just outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference heading into Monday’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks, but don’t look for Colorado to make a big acquisition for a final postseason push.

“We’ll see what our options are. But like I said, we’re not going to enter the rental market for this year,” general manager Joe Sakic told the Denver Post on Saturday. “We have a plan going forward and we want to build this. The guys work hard. We have a great group.

“And like I said at the start of the year, we’re going to build for the future. This team’s going in the right direction. They’ve hung in there, and I expect they’ll continue to hang in (the playoff race).”

One reason Sakic isn’t frantically trying to make a deal is he already pulled one off in November when he traded disgruntled center Matt Duchene to Ottawa in a three-way deal that netted seven assets, including three future draft picks.

So Sakic is comfortable with his current roster despite major injuries to defenseman Erik Johnson, Anton Lindholm and Mark Barberio, who could be out for extended time.

Colorado (32-24-5) went 1-1-1 on its just completed three-game trip through Canada. Now, after 13 of 16 games on the road, the Avalanche will play four straight at home, where they have won 10 of their last 11.

The Canucks are coming off a 3-1 win in Arizona on Sunday night that featured the return of defenseman Ben Hutton. He was a healthy scratch for the four previous games and was itching to play again.

Hutton had two shots in 17:03 of ice time against the Coyotes.

“It’s not fun sitting out and I’m excited to get back in,” Hutton told The Vancouver Sun. “You can always work on your game and watch it from above when you sit out. And when you get back in, you can prove to your teammates and coaching staff that you belong.

“I’ve got to get shots through from the point and be hard to play against and be more aggressive — it’s everything.”

The Canucks (24-31-7) were struggling to stay in the postseason race but have fallen out of it after starting this month 4-7-1. The one overtime loss came against Colorado on Tuesday when the Avalanche scored all of their goals on the power play to win 5-4.

Vancouver is facing a wounded team, but Colorado did get back leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon last week. MacKinnon missed eight games after he was injured in Vancouver on Jan. 30, and he had a little payback with three assists and the overtime goal last Tuesday.

The Canucks will try to stop the Avalanche’s top line and salvage the rest of February. They finish the month hosting the New York Rangers on Wednesday and, like the Avalanche, are looking to the future.

That immediate future could be without forward Tomas Vanek, who has been rumored to be on the market. Speculation about his near future is heating up, but the 34-year-old isn’t worrying about that.

“I have no idea what the market looks like or where it’s going to head or when it’s going to start heading,” he told The Vancouver Sun.