I'm sure most people have their own opinion, I'm kind of curious to hear which number of players most think to be optimal? 20, 21, 22, or the max of 23?
I think 21 is a decent number, with a mix of 12F, 7D, and 2G. It leaves you protection in case of an injury in the pregame skate, and it saves 1.0 mil in cap room (NHL minimum salary is $0.500 mil for the 09/10 season), relative to the same roster with 2 additional, league minimum salaried players. It's the cap room argument that most intrigues me, as I'm not sure how important it is to have extra players on your roster if you can simply replace them via LTIR when injuries hit. The problems come when players are injured, but not so seriously injured that they need to go on LTIR. In that case though you can just call a player up,provided you have cap room, and I wonder how that trades off with having 1 mil extra to spend elsewhere in your roste?.
Additionally, one's decision regarding the roster number depends on the team's player mix and waiver situation. Do you want to have 3 extra players to give match-up flexibility vs different teams? Are there players that you value enough to not risk waiving, even if they aren't line-up regulars?
I guess it goes to the larger question "How closely should a team willing to spend to the cap actually get before they are cutting too fine a line?" And what is too fine a line?