The Avs are in this position because of mistakes they have made since the new CBA was implemented. I think the biggest mistake was giving May, Turgeon and Brisebois two-year deals. Those guys are eating up 4 million of payroll. Another issue were these bonuses that kicked in for Sakic and Blake when the Avs declined their options for 06-07. That was a blunder because the club didn't find out until recently that those bonuses count against the cap. Now the Avs are effectively paying Sakic 8.05 million this season and 2.3 million for Blake who will be playing for the Kings. Had they picked up the options, the cap hit would have been around 12 million for both players, but you would have BOTH players.
I think Tanguay was going to be traded regardless. He reportedly is asking for 5 million per season, which I personally believe he's not worth at this time. You can't disappear in two straight playoff years and expect that kind of cash. You can criticize Hejduk, but Milan is locked into a long-term cap friendly contract.
I think this is a borderline playoff team, but they can make it if certain things go right for them.
I think Wolski is eventually going to make fans forget about Tanguay (perhaps not this season, but eventually). Next summer, the Avs will finally be rid of the bonuses and the contracts of Turgeon, May and Brisebois. They'll have cap room. You'll also start seeing some youngsters from the past few drafts starting to make the club in 07-08. This team is already younger then last year's squad and will continue to get younger within the next few years.