It's not about being afraid of a situation it's about making decisions and adjust in order to get minimal "damages" on your team.
ok so, lets take that "if clarkson is due to get silly money from some GM so be it" part. If Clarkson want 5+m and that Lou is simply not willing to pay that. Lou and pretty much everyone here can agree that he's a goner and i dont think no one here would want him at 5m+. its the "SO BE IT" part that i dont get from fans. why would you just accept that while it could have been resolved with a different approach? cause it really could have been.
Why do we have to just "accept" that Lou will only figure that out when its too late and cant get anything in return as a compensation of losing the guy? I mean... if there was a slim chance he'd be retained anyway? He's putting himself in a situation where he doesnt have control other than offering a contract. Then you sign it or you're gone.
of course it's not that easy and black on white but a super damn simple "talk" between 3 people mid season could have been a huge help. Then if Lou knows he would never pay that price for Clarkson. Then you have an option at the trade deadline. We we're a non-playoffs team.
like seriously seems like no one here even like the guy that much, so at this point at this moment what would you prefer? have to overpay clarkson to a deal we all knew months ago would be too high or a trade deadline acquisition pick or prospect? Its as much a risk going for a run without a guy but at least you know you'll have a pick or prospects for a few years in compensation, than it is risking losing him for nothing for the next few years.
all that being said for all we know Clarkson might re-sign here tomorrow. But again, i'd HATE to lose Clarkson for nothing while he could have been figured out half season that we couldnt have never kept him anyway based on his demand.
So your approach is, essentially, to sit down every UFA mid-season, ask them if they want the contract that you are willing to offer, and if they don't accept it then or at least seem interested, they get traded? A team run like that would never make the playoffs. However, they'd have a ton of picks or prospects that they will then treat the same way.
How is this any better than the current approach, which is let the player play hockey, realize that they want to see their worth on the open market, and then let them make their decision? It doesn't matter if Lou offers Clarkson 4 million today or last year, if he (and most importantly, his agents) think he can get 5 million, they will see what free agency brings.
Why would any player in their right mind sign for less mid-season when they KNOW they can make more as a free agent?