I also tried to construct a team as if I were a real NHL GM, not focusing solely on offensive production but rather trying to build a well-rounded roster with defined roles. I'm not ready to say this squad would be the definite Stanley Cup champions, but I'd take my chances. (To any NHL owners reading this: my resume can be e-mailed in seconds!)
(All salaries are for the 2009-10 season.)
Ryan Getzlaf: $5,125,000 - A big, strong well-rounded player with soft hands, good speed, and incredible awareness. He's like Joe Thornton, only younger and with a Stanley Cup ring.
Marc Savard: $5,000,000 - Claude Julien has the formerly one-dimensional Savard playing hard at both ends of the ice. His play-making ability, especially on the PP, is among the best in hockey.
Derrick Roy: $3,500,000 - His salary goes up each of the next three seasons, but in 2009-10 he provides excellent value and production on my third line.
Dominic Moore: $1,100,000 - Good faceoff man, excellent on the PK and can chip in on scoring. The perfect 4th line center.
Ilya Kovalchuk: $7,500,000 - Granted, my man-love for the supremely-talented Russian is well documented (for the 1000th time, please come to Toronto next year Ilya!), but his scoring and play-making ability is under-appreciated. He is a guaranteed 45 goals and 90 points no matter who he's playing with.
Rene Bourque: $1,400,000 - Spark plug who can score (31 points in 32 games) and seems to be getting better and better every game.
Andrew Brunette: $2,500,000 - I've never understood how this guy continues to get passed around the league without ever finding a home. He's put up consistent points in every stop.
Ales Hemsky: $3,600,000 - I know he's hurt right now, and has never really fully delivered on his talent, but he's not overpaid and I still see a lot of upside.
Dustin Brown: $2,600,000 - Should surpass 30 goals for the second straight year and could really break out offensively at any time. Also not afraid to mix it up.
Jason Pominville: $1,350,000 - Has already signed a contract extension that will give him a hefty raise to $5.3M a year beginning next season. Suffice to say, Pominville isn't likely to be a repeat member of this squad.
Mikael Samuelsson: $1,200,000 - A smart player and a veteran presence to fill out the 4th line. Slightly more expensive than what you'd ideally want to pay a checker, but his ability to score combined with his winning experience make him a valuable addition.
Tomas Kaberle: $4,250,000 - One of the best powerplay quarterbacks in hockey and certainly the most affordable.
Duncan Keith: $1,900,000 - With his recent long-term contract extension and likely inclusion on Team Canada's Olympic defence, Keith's unknown days are over. Could be the best value in the entire league for 2009-10.
Andreas Lilja: $1,250,000 - My top two defensive pairings will eat up close to 25 minutes a piece, leaving only 10 minutes or less for my numbers five and six. Lilja is a bit player who knows his role and excels in it.
Matt Carkner: $500,000 - Strictly a physical presence who will keep the opposition honest.
Antti Niemi: $827,000
My goaltending philosophy is well known in this space, so I won't repeat myself. Let's just say I'd continually roll the dice and take chances on 25-29 year-old guys, never over-paying any of them.
Total Salary: $51,866,000
(Another note to NHL owners: That would leave a little more than $5 million on the table, leaving room to make a deadline deal or take on salary in case of injury.)