Let the speculation begin.
The new salary cap era of the NHL seems to be leaving many teams with little to do but let some of their younger talents go the way of the free agent market come July 1st. In a 30-team league, this makes it even harder to build a dynasty and keep it that way.
In Pittsburgh, the dilemma comes with the resigning of their big forwards—Evgeni Malkin, Marian Hossa, Ryan Malone, Jordan Staal, and Petr Sykora along with netminder Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Brooks Orpik.
With much of their cap space devoted to Sidney Crosby, how is Ray Shero going to keep a young, talented, and potentially dynastic Penguins team together for a few years?
At the outset, it looks like Malkin is the one on the outside looking in. Malkin may have led the Penguins to the playoffs with Crosby, but he is not the one who is saving the NHL by being its next superstar. Thus, Malkin's stock isn't as high and his cheque will probably not be in the Ovechkin/Crosby range.
Along with Malkin, there are rumors that the Columbus Blue Jackets are already interested in Ryan Malone and would be willing to pay $5 million per over five years.
We saw what happened in Edmonton, despite no salary cap, and the Oilers couldn't keep their dynasty longer than eight to ten years. The Montreal Canadiens dynasty of the 1970s lasted about the same amount of time. Last time a "dynasty" caliber team was in Pittsburgh, the team fell apart after only two to four years.
Not even remotely close to thinking dynasty, the Minnesota Wild are just hoping to be able to keep one superstar and not lose two. Both Brian Rolston and Pavol Demitra are UFAs this summer, yet Wild GM Doug Risebrough has only devoted his efforts to signing one, and so far the frontrunner is Rolston.
Risebrough has said that both are not coming back, yet if he cannot get Rolston signed, he will turn his attention to possibly resigning Demitra, if possible.
In Montreal, Bob Gainey must act quickly to avoid losing one of the best power-play defenseman—again. Mark Streit may command at least a $2 million per year contract, if not more, this coming off-season, yet the Canadiens have made forward Andrei Kostitsyn and his 29 goals this last season a priority.
Rumours have been spreading that the New York Rangers may be interested in Streit and may give him a full-time defensive role, unlike his constant shifting in Montreal.
Jul. 1 will answer many of these questions.