So Now What?
The first flurry of actions are over, and for the most part I think a majority of us are on board with what Stan Bowman did (even if it took a few days to get there). What's left to be done?
Well, there's this restricted free agent thing with arbitration, which I fear could get uglier than we've talked about. Just looking at a world where Jan Hejda, Marc Methot, and Anton Babchuk can make north of $2.5 million, then I wonder if Chris Campoli really won't be awarded the 3 that I'm guessing he's asking (I have no idea). I don't know what will happen then. As much as they believe in him, I doubt Stan is ready to dump that much responsibility on Nick Leddy when he's not all that far removed from cracking 10 minutes a night. And the thrifty approach to free agency probably allows Stan to overpay Campoli for one season if need be.
Viktor Stalberg? Even if he wins his case I can't imagine he's asking for that huge of a raise, or 12 goals counts for a lot more than i thought. Still, he's probably trade bait, as he doesn't fit on the 4th line anymore and it's unlikely Q's going to hand him a top six role without making a face akin to trying brussel sprouts.
Michael Frolik - he doesn't even get a hearing, so his choices are to come to terms or wait for an offer sheet or find a bigger payday in Russia. I can't imagine the latter actually comes up, unless Fro and his agent are true buttheads (and with an agent, one never knows). There hasn't been one offer sheet extended anywhere to anyone, does Frolik's reps really think one is coming for him? And how big would it have to be to get the Hawks to choke? Again, the responsibility shown on the 1st allows some overpayment to be swallowed if need be. Is someone really coming for Fro ready to give up a first and third round pick (what I'm guessing it would take to make the Hawks walk)? I doubt it. This could take a while.
But that's internal, and there are things that need to be filled externally. It's clear the Hawks have a hole at 4th line center and somewhere in the top six. And no, Adam Jahns, Jamal Mayers and Marcus Kruger are not the answers to either of those questions. My dreams of Chris Drury die a with every passing day as it makes me think that he's more hurt than we thought before. And there's hardly anything left on the open market. In fact, in the unrestricted market, there's nothing.
So we're left to try and trade or offer sheet someone from teams that might be capped out. Who are they?
Washington - While they are over the cap, it's not quite that bad (though hardly good). Tom Poti is likely to be LTIRed (you can do that?), which gets them under. I know a lot have been fantasizing about Eric Fehr, and that would be more than fine. But buzz is they'd rather move Schultz and other lesser lights. But with Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer now in the fold, is Mike Knuble accessible? Yeah, he's Andrew Brunette II, but he hasn't scored less than 20 goals in a decade, and would add yet another voice in the dressing room.
Buffalo - Another capped out team, but we've already gotten what they have to offer and what we need from them. The Sabres have a bevy of smallish, nippy wingers. Well, we tried that once. Derek Roy would be nice, but they're not going to ship their #1 center. Paul Gaustad? Eh. Too expensive for a fourth line center, and I don't know that he can be your #3, not to mention no one is sure Dave Bolland can be a #2 center.
Philadelphia - Yes, they're at the cap, but their roster is full and they don't need to move anyone. Unless they really are offering Stamkos an offer sheet, and then the universe won't make sense any more.
New Jersey - They have more cap space than the others, but the small matter of re-signing Zach Parise, which could eat up most of that space. But other than Parise himself, there's not much here. David Clarkson would be a nasty edition to the 3rd line, freeing Bickell up to at least try and prove he can skate with the big boys (though I think I know how that turns out).
New York Rangers - Though they got the ultimate prize in the market, they now have three centers to re-sign. All of whom can ask for some cash. Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Brian Boyle are all restricted free agents. I fully expect the Rangers to keep the first two no matter what. And despite coming off a 20-goal season, Boyle would look pretty tasty centering for Carcillo and Smith I think, and might be pried away if they end up paying all three too much.
and...there's always Jarret Stoll.