I'll agree with your criticism of some of the money shelled out in free agency, and I agree that they probably used free agency to replace the rebuilding process rather than supplementing it. But there are a few other things that cannot be denied here.
First, this team isn't losing games because the talent isn't there. It's losing games right now because almost all of its integral roles are being played by kids who were in the AHL (or lower) to start the season. They had 11 players in the game last night with fewer than 150 games of NHL experience. That jumps to thirteen if you include the two goalies. The team's best player was playing major junior hockey last year and he turned 18 right before the season started, for crying out loud. I don't care how good he is. When an 18-year old kid is clearly your team's best player, you're probably not going to be winning many games.
Second, this team is in the hole it's in right now partially because of Olczyk's lack of any sort of a disciplined and structured system. It's amazing to me how quickly people have forgotten how disorganized this team looked under Olczyk. I'm not suggesting that it's been perfect under Therrien, because it certainly hasn't. But they're cycling the puck in the offensive zone. They're generally getting much better puck support. They're generating more scoring chances, especially chances off of turnovers. They've almost entirely stopped relying on that ridiculous 100-foot pass to get the puck up the ice, something they did so much under Olczyk that I had to wonder if that was the only breakout strategy Edzo was teaching.
Like I said, I'm not suggesting that things are going great under Therrien, and I'm not even sure he's the guy to take this team through next season. But there's definitely been improvement, especially in some of the more fundamental areas of the game. You can at least watch this team play and detect some structure. Unfortunately, Therrien's probably going to need a full training camp to get this thing implemented. And as I said, I'm not 100% sure he's going to be brought back, depending on how the ownership/GM situations bear out.
My point is this...this isn't like 2003-04 when they were losing games because many of their integral roles were being filled by has-beens or never-will-be's. I think you can count on players like Crosby, Fleury, Whitney, Orpik, Armstrong, Ouellet, Talbot, and Malone to be playing integral roles on this team for the better part of the next three to five years. There's some pedigree and some serious upside there with a lot of those players, something that they didn't have with the 2003-04 crew.