As a fan, I'm about done with a lot of this core as presently constructed. Gillis and Acquilini need to look themselves in the mirror in this respect.
This thought process is that it puts us right beside Calgary and Edmonton on the rebuilding list.
We have the pieces, that should they be willing to waive NTC's and NMC's, that will bring us very nice returns so that the rebuild isn't from the ground up, more of a renovation.
Keeper forwards: Kesler, Burrows, Kassian, Weise, Hansen.
Keeper defense: Hamhuis, Garrison, Bieksa, Tanev.
Right there is a core of 7 guys with Kassian and Tanev being developed into a future core players (hopefully) and Weise being a very good 4th line forward who could probably develop into a respectable 3rd line winger.
Lap and Higgins could be kept around, so long as their roles are more clearly defined. Lapierre, in particular, being restricted to the 4th line center role and only seeing 3rd line minutes as an absolute last resort.
We also have some depth pieces worth keeping.....
I would seriously consider keeping Alberts around as a 6/7 guy. He plays mean. His play seems to have smartened up somewhat of late, and he protects the net after the whistle.
Sestito hasn't been a disaster and would make a reasonable addition in the 12-14 spot.
Regardless, no matter what happens with the players the time has come for a new coach, and that has to be addressed first, and very quickly. If they lose tonight, then Gillis needs to clean house behind the bench by the end of the second round. He needs to have a new head coach on board before the end of the playoffs, and that guy has to be a coach who can actually coach an uptempo brand of hockey, the coach has to fit the mold that management is outlining for this team in the long term. Then Gillis and New Coach need to sit down together and identify needs, and the coach needs to give his input as they move forward and start deciding who gets moved (or asked to move) and who they want to target in July as UFA signings. If Gillis waits until the end of the playoffs to axe Vigneault, then it's going to be a shitty summer.....unless he's been talking to AV's replacement on the sly.