May 15, 2019 | 10:31am ET



RW Mikko Rantanen


The Colorado Avalanche expect to have a busy off-season as General Manager Joe Sakic is planning on being very active.

With the top priority of signing star winger Mikko Rantanen to a new contract leading the list, Sakic knows he has an opportunity this summer to build on the success of this season, even if it did fall short.

“Just got to keep building and getting better,” Sakic said, as quoted by the Avalanche website. “As great as the end of the year was, we still didn’t accomplish the end goal. We still got to find a way to get better and it starts here in the off-season. We took a little break here. [I’ll] meet with the coaching staff here, go over our players and just got to go to work and get ready for the draft and free agency.”

Colorado has just over $31.75 million in available salary cap space next season – and that figure will increase when the 2019-20 salary cap increases.

The team has plenty of flexibility to add to its roster, either via free agency or trades, and that’s even after they sign Rantanen to an extension and fellow pending restricted free agents Alex Kerfoot, J.T. Compher and Nikita Zadorov.

“We’re excited about this off-season. There are a lot of things that we can do to improve this club and make us a stronger team for next year,” Sakic said. “You saw the growth the last couple years here, and we want to keep growing like that. You see the Pepsi Center and the playoff atmosphere all year. I think there is a lot of excitement about this team, and we got to keep building and try and get it to the next level.”

With respect to Rantanen, Sakic admitted his team’s preference is to get him locked up to a long-term deal.

“It’s a priority to get him done,” he said. “We prefer long term, but if it has to be short term than it has to be short term. We want to make sure that we get him signed.”

In the free agent market, Sakic revealed the Avs “already have targeted players in mind if they become available that we're going to want to talk to about joining our club” and with the money to lure some big fish, the team could go after the likes of Erik Karlsson, Jeff Skinner or Brock Nelson, among others.

“There has been a lot of growth with our players in our dressing room,” Sakic said, “and now we got to try to find a way to keep making steps and keep getting better and keep the excitement going here.”