NerveDamage, yes I do believe it's possible to sign Stamkos without trading Datsyuk's contract. There are always other options, but of course ridding ourselves of that dead cap space would be the easiest route. If we can't trade the contract though, it is very possible to trade Ericsson and Howard and still be able to go after the biggest UFA fish.
As I've said before, Howard to a team like Calgary for a mid round pick and Ericsson to a team like Edmonton ($1M retained) for a mid to late round pick... Those two moves alone would give us $8.5M in cap space, along with the few million we'll have after we sign our remaining RFA's.
As for Helm, he's the only UFA's that I'd personally like back, and if we can sign him for under $3M, that would be great. I'd have one of Helm or Sheahan as our 3rd line center, depending on what our overall roster looks like come October...
Come on, realistically, no one is going to take Ericsson off our hands. The guy has been brutal at times with his inconsistency, and that contract isn't going to do anyone any favours.
If you ask me, KH is kinda f***ed here by this whole situation. Yes he hasn't helped himself with some of the deals he's made (or lack thereof) but like, Datsyuk leaving creates a huge problem.
Look at it this way:
1. If he sits and eats the $7.5m cap space, he's going to get torn to shreds because he's responsible for not being able to move that space and then we'd never even have a shot at competing to sign Stamkos, or for that matter, one or two of the better free agents out there. E.g. Backes.
2. If he is able to clear it, he'll have to give up someone he doesn't want to, and considering the fact that there's only one reasonable team that can take on that contract now, the price will be relatively high. So there'll be considerable backlash if he ends up having to give up say, Jurco plus a pick. And then what if he strikes out in free agency? No Stamkos, no Backes, no Okposo etc etc.
Really, I think Howard needs to be moved this offseason, but again, that's going to be even harder now with the expansion announcement coming. I'd love to see Ericsson shipped out, but again, who's going to take on that contract and give us a good return?
Ideally, I'd like tos ee the kids play. Give AA, Mantha, Ouellet and Sproul full time jobs and hand them the reigns. If we miss the playoffs then so be it. but having Datsyuk leave a year early with an already declining Zetterberg makes this decision to turn the page somewhat easier.
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