The next couple of years ( I haven't checked beyond that) are pretty bleak for free agents. Out of the couple big name guys we can't afford, there's nothing we need unless we have a sudden hole opening up, which we probably won't this offseason.
There's nothing out there.
Lidstrom is staying here, Kovalchuk won't be coming here, Marleau is overpaid, and the rest of the list either isn't worth the cash or we don't need them. EVery year everyone always starts discussing their super underrated gem pick because it's fun but realistically, we don't need a Svatos, Martin or Demitra. What are they going to do that our current guys can't? Seriously? We always project slightly unrealistic numbers and expectations for these guys. They'd come here, be "close but not quite scorers" for us and we'd be disappointed. We sometimes have low standards. Like Frolov. Seriously? C'mon, all he'd do is disappoint the same people who want him, because those people are always the ones who freak out at the littlest things going wrong.
The change will likely come from within because right now, considering our roster, our cap scenario and the talent available...it's the smartest thing to do. Our real focus should be trying to swing a trade for a big name defender, or planning the future around finding one. Stuart is a perfect second pairing defender, but Kronwall has proven I think that he deserves top line time. He'll need a partner, and so will Stu.
And is no one thinking of the fact that we're likely going to have to pay Jimmy pretty soon? He's not going to play for peanuts forever, and odds are he's our goalie for the foreseeable future. When Lids and Raf go, that's about 13 mil free, but Jimmy will likely command 3.5-5 mil (I'd think 4) and our defensive replacements will probably be paid around 6 mil and 3 mil respectively. Or I'd hope for a quality couple of guys worth that much.
Right now we're probably going to look at guys like Kindl, see if he's worth a s***. See if Ericsson can take the next step, and see if Rafalski is going to call it a career soon. Because as much as I think this board comes down on him WAY too hard, he has lost a slight step. We are in serious need of a physical top line defenseman. If we could somehow steal Shea Weber I'd s*** rainbows and smiles.