Starting up front: It sounds like Tatar and Andersson are going to be in the opening game lineup next season. Brunner is a MUST re-sign. I don't think we'll keep Nyquist down another wasted season.
...That gives us a top-six of some combination of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Brunner, Tatar, Nyquist. A third line of Helm, Bert, Sammy. A fourth line of Abby, Andersson, Tootoo. Then we'll still have 13th and 14th forwards Emmerton and Eaves (rrr..) under contract.
...We're done!(??). How much of a raise Brunner will get is really the only issue. Nyquist and Andersson will get slight raises as RFA's, but just slight ones.
...There really isn't even a need to overpay to keep Val - unless we really want to / don't have to overpay. Certainly, there's no reason or desire to bring back Cleary (perhaps as a min salary under certain circumstances). Certainly no need to bring back Miller either (ditto).
On to defense: Smith is certainly an RFA that we're not going to give up on - he'll be back at a slight raise. Kronner and E as your top pair (for now..). Smith and Quincey as your second (again). Lashoff and Covalacio (under contract ..rrr) as two of your bottom three. Let's hold off on this for now.
On to the net. Jonas is under contract as the backup. Howard will certainly be brought back at a raise of some level.
WHERE ARE WE NOW:
About 12.1m under the cap. Let's say we dole out about 2mil in raises for our 3 RFA's (Andersson, Nyquist, Smith).
About 10.1m under the cap. Let's say Brunner's contract bumps to Val-level, about 3mil. About a 1.7m raise we'll say.
About 9.4m under the cap. Let's say Howard's contract bumps to "between Mule and Hank"-level. About 5mil. About a 2.8m raise we'll say.
About 6.6m in cap-space now. Not a ton - but something. And there are things we could do still to lower this without losing, really anything.
...Ridding ourselves of Eaves' worthless 1.2m salary (somehow). I'd much rather have a cheap prospect like Sheahan, Jarnkrok, Pulkkinen, Jurco, etc...or Miller/Cleary on a min. contract in that slot.
...Ridding ourselves of Colaiacovo's worthless 2.5m salary (somehow). I'd much rather see a cheap prospect...or Kindl back on min. in that slot.
...In more extravagant moves...Bert and Sammy are both contracts I'm sure we'd all love to see moved. Quincey is a contract we'd all love to see moved.
WITHOUT moving any of those deals, we're gonna have about 7 mil in cap space to add an elite #1 defenseman. Make some of those contracts disappear, and u can start talking about bringing Val and even White back too.
Holland really, really, really f-d the organization over last off-season. But, with some shrewdness, he will have a chance to revive it this off-season. A chance.