I think we can't keep most of these players and need to be thinking laterally to find solutions. Main reason? Economy. The cap's going down and there's almost nothing we can do about that unless revenues go up for some reason. We need to dump salary to make the cap. We let Boucher and Gill walk after this year, re-sign Scuds, and our D looks:
With the exception of Eaton, that's solid; we have to hope he comes along and makes himself worth 2 million. If we can keep Goligoski, Eaton gets dropped to 7th D man, which is very comfortable for me. We can get 3 awesome pairings out of those 6. Gill and Boucher leave 5.5MM open to sign Gogo (with the expiration of his current contract) and get a little extra for the forwards/goalie.
We'd have to get a keeper for .5MM, and I think Curry would be a good call-up to fill this spot. We've had the luxury of backups playing like starters; I doubt we can keep Sabou for backup money.
Forwards are trickier; some has to step up for us to make things work. Sid needs a scoring winger - keeping Satan will be expensive, so I doubt we do that but I'd love it if we did. He seems to have found his game in Pittsburgh, so a 2 year 8MM contract would work for me - paying for it with money saved from Gogo, hopefully.
Sykora should be willing to take an extension to stay here at his current price - something I'd do if he would do it. His statistics have not improved all that much with Malkin - he scored much more with the Devils. Playing with the Pens is good for him, he's got something good with Malkin. He's gotten a Cup, but he missed at 2 more and probably wants to win. So I'd hope he would sign for 2.5/yr for 2 more years, maybe 3.
We'll need Dupuis and Kennedy to step up; Cooke has to play well (maybe 2nd line time). I can't see how we wouldn't sign Zigomanis for minimum or a slight increase (825k seems plenty). Talbot should see more. He's got a nose for the goal and scores clutch points. He looks good with Sid. I'd offer him 1.5/yr to stay.
Even if all my "hopes" pan out, we would be losing Tank and probably Satan. Pesonen, Minard, Bissonnette and Bill Thomas need to step up somewhere so we can get 4th line depth, and we need to adjust to the fact that we might have to condense to two scoring lines. Maybe Staal - Crosby - Talbot and Cooke/Kennedy - Malkin - Sykora. There's not enough money to go around.
Fortunately, we're not the only team with this problem.