There's going to be about 20.8 mil available in cap space going into the off-season.
1) First, I think all three RFA's will be brought back. I don't think Quincey should be, but I don't think Holland's going to let him walk after giving up a 1st round pick to get him. I don't really know much about how RFA raises work. I'm just going to project that all three get about 0.5 mil raises. 20.8 - 1.4 (Helm) - 1.3 (Abdelkader) - 3.6 (Quincey) = 14.5.
2) Second, let's just go ahead and get this out of the way. Lidstrom is probably going to come back for at least one more year. He's probably not going to take much of a pay-cut either (for whatever reason?). If he had any interest in taking a pay-cut, he probably would have the last two off-seasons. I'm not sure that anything has happened to change that. If it has, excellent, it will be very helpful. But I sort of doubt it. I'll go ahead and guess that he returns at about 6.0 mil. 14.5 - 6.0 = 8.5.
3) Third, Zach Parise. There's nothing we need more than a superstar forward to help out Pav. There's 8.5 mil available in cap space. It's going to cost about 7.0 mil to get Parise. I think we should do it. I think we will do it. Done. 8.5 - 7.0 = 1.5.
*I'm going to cut in and address the "Ryan Suter" issue right here. A) If Lidstrom retires, or takes a monster pay-cut, then we might have the cap space to begin talking about adding Suter. But like I said, I don't think either of those events are likely to occur. And even though many of us would love to see it happen, I don't see Holland moving a big contract (Franzen, Filppula, Cleary, Bertuzzi, etc.) this off-season. In all likelihood, we're going to have about 8.5 mil in cap space after resigning our RFA's and Lidstrom. It's going to cost us about 7.0 mil to sign either Suter or Parise. Recall Babcock's post-game/series comments. He seemed more or less pleased with our defensive performance (aside from occassional "breakdowns"). What he was adamant about was our lack of depth up front; of Pav not having enough help. If that money's there, it's going up front. B) Even if we somehow had the cap space, why would Suter come here. Why, if the money was even close, would he leave the team he's spent his entire professional career being a huge part of building from a joke into perhaps the favorite to come out of the West this post-season? And to come to a team that they just proved themselves to be light years ahead of a week ago? Sorry, but I just really don't see it happening.
4) Fourth, some general/small house-cleaning issues.
-A) I think that Brendan Smith will be added to the roster (most likely stepping into Stuart's role). 1.5 - 0.9 = 0.6.
-B) I think that Jan Mursak will replace Riley Sheahan on the roster (he actually makes less too). 0.6 + 0.3 = 0.9.
-C) I think that Joey MacDonald will be replaced by a veteran with more of an NHL track record. For whatever reason, Holland, Babcock and co. have never been comfortable going into a season with Mac as the #2. He had a great season last year, and still, we paid more to bring back Ty. He had a mediocre, injury-plagued season this year, so I see us going out and getting someone else again. Probably someone that makes about 1 mil a season (Joey Mac makes 0.4 mil less). 0.9 - 0.4 = 0.5.
-D) I think that Jakub Kindl will be replaced by a veteran as well. Hopefully somone that fights. Hopefully someone that costs about the same (so no cap change). Kind of what we hoped Commie might be this year. I think that Holland, Babcock and co. really went out of their way to give Kindl an extended NHL audition this season, especially down the stretch; and he just didn't really do anything to prove that he deserves a spot in our organization. His trade value is probably as high now as it's ever going to be.
So, in all likelihood, this is our team next season (with only, roughly, 0.5 mil in cap space available...no room to even begin talking about Hudler, Holmstrom or Stuart - who appears to have no intentions of returning anyways):
Unless there's a really surprising trade (Franzen, Filppula, Cleary, Bertuzzi, etc.), unless Holland really surprisingly lets Quincey walk after just giving up a first round pick to get him, or unless Lidstrom does something really surprising like retire, or take a huge pay cut, THAT is more or less the team that we're going to put out there next season.
I really don't think that's all that debatable, in terms of what we should be expecting.
The question is, "is it good enough to win a Stanley Cup?" Is Zach Parise going to be enough of an addition to the top line (replacing Bertuzzi, essentially) to really make THE difference? Is Brendan Smith going to be able to aptly replace Stuart in the back-end? Is Nyquist really going to shine, and be an upgrade over Hudler on the second line? Is Bertuzzi entering the bottom six (replacing Holmstrom, essentially) going to have a positive effect on our depth? Are we going to stay healthy? Are our veterans going to be able to fight off father time for another year. Are our younger players, in general, going to be able to take a step forward? Are guys that have been slacking (like Mule) going to regain their desire?
I don't know. A lot of things need to go right. Our defensive group, IMO, really let us down against Nashville. There were too many breakdowns to be called occasional lapses. And we're bringing back essentially the same group, only with an added element of question (Smith in for Stuart). Whatever coaching problems we had against Nashville MUST be fixed in order for us to be contenders. Brendan Smith needs to have a really great rookie year. Quincey REALLY needs to get it together and start earning his pay. Ericsson needs to keep improving. Kronwall needs to handle the #1 defenseman minutes, and well. Lidstrom needs to be able to fight off age for one more year.
And up front, Parise really needs to be our savior. He really needs to pick this entire team's play up by being a great linemate for Pav. Nyquist needs to have a really great first year. Mule needs to get his crap together and start playing. Val needs to be ready to finally get it done in the post-season. Bertuzzi and Cleary REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need to start picking up the energy, start playing more physically, and start doing what third liners need to do.
Lot of big question marks. Lot of things I don't really like about the team. Lot of things I'd do differently than Holland. But this is most likely what we will be seeing next season.
Edited by blueadams, 24 April 2012 - 12:31 PM.