Doesn't really matter if they were as good as before, they were one of the top teams in the league and only fell out of the top spot in the East at the end of the year. For a large chunk of the season, they were the best team in the NHL. They need to continue to improve/develop the younger players to maintain that status, but a bit a drop off in production in return for consistent goaltending should make them very close to, if not a better overall record as last year.I also think either Philadelphia or Tampa Bay. I don't see how you can trade two proven top six centers and consider yourself as good as you were before. Plus Pronger's health is a question mark. And Tampa, I'm just not sold on their goaltending. Roloson was good last year, but he turns 42 in October, and Garon isn't the most reliable backup plan.
The aging defense argument...Pronger and Timonen have been aging for quite some time, but it's not like the rest of the d-men are falling apart like they have leprosy.
Lilja, Timonen, and Pronger are all 36, the other three (Mezsaros, Coburn, and Carle) are 25 and 26. The other 4 that remain average 22 years old.
We'll see how they do, I would be shocked if they don't make the playoffs though.