nobody knows what Lou is doing now. But 1-2-3-4-5 weeks before free agency, there's no difference really other than he has more time to make things happen. Point is at that point it's too late for plan B.
What we do know (from reports and from people involved in different situations through the years and quotes taken from interviews and sh!t. Lou does not want to talk contracts during the season. He's secretive and all we all know that. But with Lou himself saying its that way and many many agents and players confirming it, im taking it for cash at this point.
I didnt want to quote you in full, but you don't seem to realize it's a two-way street. The player has to want to stay too and they're not going to be honest with the media if asked. Lou "broke the mold" with Zajac earlier this year. Did anyone expect that? Is it absolutely sure that Lou didnt approach Parise in early 2012 about re-signing, but his agents said "we're going to UFA"? It's not a far fetched thought. Zach knew he was going to be the biggest name on the market last year, just as Clarkson (and Elias) know that they will get plenty of attention this year.
I just don't believe we have enough information to put all the grievances you seem to have on Lou. The players are culpable as well and not everyone wants to stay in New Jersey, which historically, despite our success, is not a high profile place to play.
What would be your Plan B this year? Lets say the worst happens and we lose Elias, Zubrus, and Clarkson. If Plan B was Horton or Weiss and both decided to sign elsewhere for less money, would that be Lou's fault?
I agree that there's things that Lou has done (The 3Ms, the Salvador contract) that I shake my head or scoff at, but some of the things that seem to rattle you read to me like you're being petulant/impatient. At least wait til the worst happens before assuming it's going to. I believe Lou mostly does everything he can to keep a guy, but sometimes it's just not going to happen and we don't have all the reasons as to why not b/c they're not shared with us. I also do not take the word of an agent (espc) or player as concrete, regardless if its stated regularly as their egos and public image are more important than Lou's. Lou is not going to get in a pissing match with anyone.
The only thing I can say to you is WAIT. We don't know what Lou has been doing b/c this team doesn't make announcements until they're official. The fact that Loktionov has agreed gives me more than enough hope that there is hope. Again, for all we know, Lou has agreements in place with Elias and Clarkson right now and is waiting til it can be made official to announce it. We just don't do things like other teams and never have.