You can't grade him on what might happen come draft day or free agency - they haven't taken place yet. In other words it doesn't take into effect what major void he has yet to fill. Big trades won't happen prior to the draft - they tend to take place in the hours leading up to it, or on draft day itself. So it's definitely not fair to grade him on the basis that he hasn't landed a number one centre or a big defenceman at this point. You don't grade a student in December based on material he won't see until February.....
Personally I'd give him a A- at this point when based on what the calender has allowed him to do so far(at worst a B+)?
- he has unloaded Samsonov and the cap hit will be significantly less as a result: money saved counts big in the cap scenario
- resigned Markov: yes it was a bit high but at what will most likely be market value come July 1st
- resigned Higgins and Komisarek to deals at realistic prices for the market
- has signed free agent Janne Lahti
- has signed Valentenko to a standard entry level contract = a good move to bring depth to the defence
- has acquired forward Ryan Russell from the New York Rangers for a seventh-round pick in this year's weak draft
- has signed the younger Kostitsyn to a deal
- has Carey Price signed to a deal
There are a couple of negatives in losing Mikus, along with Perezhogin and now apparently Emelin opting to play/stay in Russia. Those are somewhat offset though by the fact the Habs still own their rights, and the fact that it sounds like both prefer to stay at home - sometimes stuff happens that are beyond your capabilities no matter what you try. If they can retain Emelin and bring him over in a couple of years that will be great, but he isn't proven just yet to be the saviour they desire - he's still just a potential prospect? Perezhogin could also come back at some point so he's not totally lost.
Mikus it seems is just a victim of depth in the organization and contract limitations in the overall league picture.
Better to have enough solid depth that you risk losing some talent than not having enough?
However the fact is that at this point in time, there have been no real disastrous off season moves or departures that are considered to be permanent losses or setbacks?
In a weak draft year I put little stock in what happens if they simply retain their current first round picks - there are no players at that point that will make a direct leap to the big club. A deal however would change that thought process.... the who, what and why would have to be evaluated.
Moving up in the draft will be overly expensive for what is available, and a number one centre or defenceman won't come cheap. Most people agree that after the first 5-6 players in the draft the talent drops off the map rapidly, so teams holding the cards will ask a lot for anyone any deal involving that pick. But that's nothing new?
July 1st will be important but I really expect no big splash then as I am not at all impressed by what is out there.
That said they have to make some changes somehow if they expect to improve next year - the current status quo is not going to win a Cup soon.