I just had a thought and this seemed like an appropriate thread because it addresses the quality of the team.
I'm watching the Ducks dominate again. They're about to go 35-13. I keep thinking back to when we badly outplayed them at MSG earlier this year. That gives me some hope, as does our recent surge. I hope that continues.
As for the OP, I agree with most of the picks. I think the biggest things we need to fill is a legit 1C and depth on defense.
We have 3 good 2C's in Stepan, Richards and Brassard. I love Richards but we'll probably be forced to buy him out not even because he's overpaid but because the new CBA makes him totally immovable should we need to move him. I say keep both Stepan and Brassard. Offensive depth down the middle is important. Most great teams these days don't go by top 6 - bottom 6. They're top line, middle 6, 4th line. Having Brassard and Stepan will allow us to create a middle 6. We still need that top line C though. Unfortunately, it's the hardest thing to find in the sport. Almost all of them are drafted and drafted high. We're just gonna have to hope we find a diamond in a deep draft like Philly, Anaheim, and Washington did.
As far as defense, we've seen so many lapses this year, and I think it's because after McDonagh it absolutely falls off a cliff. Girardi is a good role guy that will probably get overpaid, Stralman is good but not top pair, Staal is wildly inconsistent as is Del Zotto; they're both really good for awhile and then they just hand the other team a goal. John Moore as far as I'm concerned is septic waste. I say we part ways with Girardi and then Staal as well when his turn comes. Keep Stralman because there's not many better options at his money. Trade Del Zotto for a defensive defenseman. Make John Moore go away. It's time for a re-tool on defense.
I don't see much similarity between Nash and Hossa. Sure, they're both strong and offensively gifted, but Hossa is much more industrious and defensively-skilled than Nash. The Hoss plays the power play. He kills penalties. Rarely have I seen him take a shift off (and I've been watching him since he broke into the NHL). Hossa is one of the most prolific two-way forwards (451 goals and counting) of our generation.
The stats show a player who has adapted to, and excelled under, many systems and line mates:
To me, Hossa seems to old, and the decline has started.
He still has 39 points in 44 games. The decline will start soon; much of his game is based on speed -- which tends to go with age. But, to your point, he has definitely started to accumulate injuries. If he does remain healthy, and preserves his work ethic and strength, two more 30-goal seasons followed by one 20-goal season isn't unrealistic. I doubt, however, he'll play till he's 40.