June 5, 2019 | 11:15am ET



Jim Benning, GM


The Vancouver Canucks are admitted searching for a top-six forward and GM Jim Benning is exploring the trade market.

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun, Benning admitted that he’s scouring the market for help up front, but he won’t part with his team’s top young talent.

According to the Sun, the Minnesota Wild offered winger Jason Zucker to the Canucks, but the asking price was Brock Boeser and that’s a non-starter for Benning.

“I’m looking to add support for our young players so they can keep developing and get to another level,” Benning told the Sun. “The thing I’m up against when I talk to other teams is they all want our best young players. I’m trying to rebuild and we’ve got pieces in place.

“They’re going to be our core group, so I’m not interested in moving them out.”

Benning admitted that he’s willing to “package guys” to bring in a player to play on one of their top-two lines.

One player the Canucks could part with is forward Jake Virtanen, who has one-year left on his contract and a $1.25 million cap hit.

“You watch the playoffs and you see the size, strength and speed and as he continues to mature, he’s going to be a valuable guy,” Benning said of Virtanen. “That’s not saying I wouldn’t move him, but it would have to be a good deal to include him.”

Meanwhile, the Canucks, according to multiple reports, have reached out to the Toronto Maple Leafs about defenceman Nikita Zaitsev.

Zaitsev, whom the Leafs are trying to move after he requested to be moved, has five-years left on his contract, which includes a 10-team no-trade list. He also comes with a $4.5 million salary cap hit.

Zaitsev currently ranks No.11 on the TFP Off-Season Trade Watch list.