This CBA has shown that you can sign ridiculous deals and then dump the bad contracts off to teams which need to make the cap floor. In essence it really wouldn't hurt us to sign whoever we wanted to a ridiculously inflated contract unless they Dipietro-ed and lost value entirely. However, this is under the assumption that the current CBA is indefinite.
The real genius of Garth's cap decisions are not based up this CBA but in anticipation of the next one. With the CBA up for renewal after this next season, there have been suggestions that serious modifications will be made. Almost assuredly the current trend of cap circumvention ala the Kovalchuk contract will be dealt with, changing the dynamic of how teams will pay for star players, or overpay for good ones like Erhoff.
Other suggested modifications involve the cap ceiling and floor. If the decision is made to lower the salary cap and/or remove the cap floor these bad contracts that teams are signing will massively impede them going forward. No more trading Brian Campbell to Florida or Carter to Columbus.
Snow knows that our chance to really start competing for the Cup is during the 2nd Tavares contract when most of our players will have matured. By not spending now we will most likely have a lot more flexibility cap wise going into the next CBA, where other teams will be handcuffed by the ridiculous contracts they've taken on.
This is likely why we have not seen Garth overpay free agents in the same way that Dale Tallon has done for Florida. Theoretically speaking we can afford it now, the reality is that it would be a disservice to our franchise's ability to compete in the future.