I didn't say White would match Rafalski's offense. I in fact said the opposite. I said it was a win for Holland on the fact that White was one of the best options available to fill the offensive hole, and brings his own advantages over what Rafalski brought.
The current formula works as you have stated. However, the cap increased at a rate much quicker than expected by the league, so teams are actually spending more now than before the lockout. The cap formula will likely be changed, and the cap for 2011-12 will be lower than 2010-11. Depending on how much they lower it, it wouldn't be surprising to see a reduction/buyout situation similar to what happened in 2005. Although I would expect only the cap hit to be reduced.
As for Emmerton and Mursak, both are projected as top-six forwards. They certainly can reach that level. Maybe not this year or next, but in five years? Eight years?
If he wanted to fill the offensive hole left by Rafalski he would have went hard at Ehroff, who would have filled that hole nicely, as well as give us a first pairing defenseman for a while. Heck, Tomas Kaberle would have been a closer fit offensively to Rafalski as well - but that is a whole other debate. I like White, I am not mad we signed him, I am just pointing out that we needed to number one pairing defenseman in order to get better - and we didn't.
As for the salary cap, I really don't know where you are getting your information from. The salary cap is tied in to league revenue and while we have no idea what the terms of the CBA will be, it's safe to say with the new TV Deal, it'll probably go up again, just as it has every year since the lockout - or it may remain static. It will not however be lowered, not with revenue's increasing. They may adjust the 5% escalator rule that is undoubtedly a tad bit excessive, or we may see the salary cap floor lowered, but the ceiling will not be lowered, end of story.
Emmerton and Mursak will never be top 6 forwards, NEVER. Look no further then their AHL numbers to see this to be the truth, Mursak has never cleared 45 points, and Mursak has never hit 40.
Here is one of the lating scouting reports on your budding top 6 guys:
Emmerton was drafted to be a top-six forward but has morphed into a probable bottom-six forward. He has outstanding hockey sense and projects as a useful utility player who will likely get his start as a 12th or 13th forward. Although he has a new three-year contract, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland has said Emmerton must "play his way onto the team" in 2011-12. If he doesn't, he'll be placed on waivers in order to return to the AHL. He's at a critical point in his career.
"I haven't heard positive reports on forward Cory Emmerton, with one scout saying he's likely a career AHLer." - Hockey Prospectus
"Mursak doesn't have an above-average offensive projection, as his skills and instincts are more of the average variety, albeit not poor either. He could use just a tad more strength to really help his case to push for a full-time job. His development is more or less done, and he is what he is."
"An average third line winger who safely projects into a bottom-six."
Mursak will be welcomed, he will be good on the third or fourth line, but his lack of offensive power and ability to play quality defense against the leagues top lines will keep him out of the top 6. I am sure we will see him on the PK though.
Emmerton is a different story. I have not seen him projected anywhere close to a top 6 forward since 2006-07. He is what he is, and that is a possible 4th liner who will not be around in 2 years. Personally, I would rather waive Emmerton and bring Conner up to play with Mursak, and Helm. Can you imagine the flat out speed of that 4th line. It would throw an insane curveball at opposing coaches trying to match up lines.