This year was only a failure if your expectations were unreasonable.
We lost a lot of leadership, offense, size and grit when Brouwer and Backes walked and we "replaced" them with Perron and a hope that the kids got better. We traded a top 4 dman in Shatty. I don't disagree with any of the moves (or allowing Brouwer and Backes to walk for more term/money than we rightfully refused to give them) but these are gut punches that take a minute to get over.
For me, this season was a transition year. Last season ('15-'16) was purely and solely about winning a god d**mn playoff series or blowing up the whole d**mn thing. This year was about plugging the offensive holes left by two top 9 forwards, as well as transitioning Allen to a #1 goalie and tweaking the defense on the eventual trade of Shatty. I think this year was about where my expectations were. Am I disappointed they lost in the playoffs? Well yea, always. But realistically they about met my expectations.
My big season take-aways
(1) We are fine without Shatty. We couldn't afford him, got a first rounder and some other assets for him, and the defense seamlessly picked up the slack with Edmunson and Parayko really taking over. I think with Washington Shatty's defensive deficiencies are more glaring and apparent now. I think we did good on managing that side of things.
(2) Defensively we are in great shape. Largely echoing my prior paragraph and what others have said in this thread. We have youth, we have veteran minute muncher in Pietrangelo in his prime of his career. We look great back there overall.
(3) Jake Allen is a #1 NHL goaltender. Army must feel a bit vindicated with Allen doing everything reasonably expected of him this season and especially into the playoffs. We have a #1. Feels good.
(4) Offense needs work. Tarasenko can't do it all by himself. That wasn't remedied last offseason once we lost some valuable secondary pieces and wasn't during the year so either trades or kids coming up or something...
We're set in goal and mostly on defense. Offensive needs need to be explored. Given the "weak" draft this year, I'm pretty tempted to just say "pick the best player available and we'll see what happens" because nothing in the draft short of a trade on the floor will make this team immediately better for '17-18. Hopefully Washington loses here in short order and we get two decent mid first round picks for the first time in a long time.
I know Joe Thornton has said his desire to stay in San Jose is strong but can you imagine him lining up with Tarasenko, just feeding him? Short 1 or 2 year deal I'd do it. Under the massive assumption his MCL/ACL's haven't ended his career.
Oshie is a UFA. DO IT ARMYYYYY.
Thoughts? We got $7 million in cap space this offseason with Yakupov (RFA), Upshall (UFA), Paajarvi (RFA) and Parayko (RFA) as our major FA's.
Parayko is obvious. The other three... I mean Paajarvi I think earned himself another contract and I love me some Upshall and I don't think they'd be expensive so maybe.
IF we can clear some space we may be able to play some ball this offseason in the UFA market. Especially with Stastny and Perron set to come off the books in summer 2018 ($10.750 in cap space).
Next season my expectations are going to be much higher. WCF again or bust.