I can understand how you came to that conclusion, but it's not pessimism at all, nor do I think the future is particularly dark. I just don't think the real building is going to start for a few years yet. I figure we'll likely stay around our current level for another 1-3 years (depending on Datsyuk), adding a few more pieces along the way.
By that time, Datsyuk will probably be gone, Hank, Kronwall, and Franzen will be mid-30s. The kids so far look like good pieces to build with, but as yet no one has emerged as someone to build around. It's possible some may do so. Also possible that enough of them will turn out "good" that we'll be able to compete will depth instead of star power. Much more likely though is that we will need some to become real stars, and we probably haven't drafted them yet.
I'm hopeful that we can find our future stars without dropping all the way to the basement, perhaps without even missing the playoffs, but historically speaking it's not very likely. The good news, though, is that once we find those stars, all the other pieces we have should have some experience or be ready to step in to the lineup. Plus we should still have plenty of veteran leadership to help the kids grow. The rise, once it starts, should be quick. Realistically I think 5-6 years is about the minimum we should expect before we're getting back to the top. If anything, I'm probably being optimistic in thinking Howie will have that kind of longevity.
Okay, I understand your point of view and think, at base, I agree. A return to the top does depend on a couple of our prospects emerging as higher impact players or stars. That does mean outplaying projections for most of them, but I've seen very good signs this year. The other ways of obtaining such a player, of course, is free agency and trades and we can still lay hope in that.