(Quick note: Doing college next year, are there any reliable websites I can use for Ranger streams? It's already pain in the ass to look for Barca games, and those are only once a week. Helpful help is helpful and appreciated.)
Soooooooooo how about no Semin, no Doan, no Nash?
"I suppose you expect us to acquire Ryan or Kane..." Nope, we do even better than that and trade for no one.
We're going to lose Gaborik until at least December, which, provided there's no lockout, will set us back quite a bit. Dubi and MDZ had off years, but might improve next season. Conversely, we can expect a couple of players to underwhelm next year too. Hank will lose a step in all likelihood. I can see Girardi regressing, maybe someone like Stepan too.
Overall, with Mac, Hags, Kreider, Staal, (AA?) set to make good natural improvements, a couple of unexpected drops in form elsewhere, an injury or two, a slight dip in our last pairing defense because of Erixon's replacing Stralman, no Gabby, and pretty horizontal changes in our bottom 6, we should go from a 2-5 level team (I still find it hard to say that we played like a 1st place team, but whatever) to a 9-7 level team this year; at least for the first few months. It's neither pretty nor ideal, but it leaves us in the playoff hunt; which is perfect considering what comes next
As soon as Gaborik comes back, we'll be at least as good as we were last year; the fun starts as we near the trade deadline. If you look at the players in next year's UFA class, there's:
Iginla, Getzlaf, Perry, and Horton who have proven quality, along with
Lupul - 25-42-67 in 66 games
Morrow - not great last year but usually very effective
Bouchard 22 in 37 last year, averages about 50 points per season
Ryder 35-27-62 - Would LOVE to have this guy
Gagne and Brouwer (Would fit well here but likely in the Caps long term plans),
Anyway you look at it, the list is way sexier than what we have to pick from this year. I can see Getzlaf and Perry staying in Cali regardless of what happens to Ryan. Horton, Lupul, and Ryder are less certain but still likely not to move. Depending on how we look after getting Gabby back, we can make a solid trade at the deadline - ideally for Iginla or Ryder - or just wait it out until the summer. No one was expecting to make a serious run last year; it's only that success that made us start wanting to contend immediately. I'd much rather sacrifice next season and get someone good instead of settling down with the best of what's left.
IN SHORT: Wait it out, go back to "rebuilding" next year, let the little ones enjoy the free playing time left by Gabby's absence, KCCO, fuck the Pens, "heart of champion, margarine hat"
and, of course, go rangers