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Report: Rangers to buy out Chris Drury; Freeing up space to make run at Brad Richards?

Jun 9, 2011, 2:45 PM EDT

Chris Drury Getty Images

Things haven’t exactly been joyful for Rangers captain Chris Drury the last few seasons in New York. He’s struggled with injuries, he’s struggled with producing on the ice, and he’s had Rangers fans hoping to see the captain’s “C” moved to other players on the team (namely Ryan Callahan). After a miserable 2010-2011 season that saw Drury finish the year with just one goal after dealing with a myriad of injuries, it appears his run in New York is at an end.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that Rangers GM Glen Sather will be buying Drury out of the final year of his contract while retaining two other high priced forwards who have had their ups and downs in New York.

The Post has also learned that the team will not buy out either Wojtek Wolski or Sean Avery, each of whom ended the season with tenuous futures on Broadway.

The Drury buyout, which will become official during the proscribed June 15-30 window for such transactions, will open $3,333,333 of 2011-12 cap space while costing the team $1,666,667 in dead space the following season under the rules of the current collective bargaining agreement.

If eating a $3.33 million cap hit for a year sounds like a bad idea, consider that if the Rangers kept Drury on the roster this year he’d eat up $7.05 million against the cap or end up thoroughly disrespected as a captain and stuffed in the AHL to hide his contract. At least being bought out means he can see if he can play somewhere else in the NHL.

The other side of cutting Drury loose is the salary relief it provides the Rangers in their potential and likely pursuit of Brad Richards when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Richards is set to become the most pursued free agent of the summer and the former Conn Smythe Trophy award winner and playmaking phenom is a guy the Rangers have lusted after since before the trade deadline this season. With his former Lightning head coach John Tortorella in charge with the Rangers, it’s a pairing that makes sense and for the Rangers Richards would be the setup man they’ve lacked for years in Manhattan.

For now, Drury’s departure from New York ends an era that saw Drury come in with big expectations after putting up huge seasons with Daniel Briere in Buffalo only to fall severely short of huge expectations on Broadway. While Drury wasn’t necessarily a bad player, the great success he had with the Sabres set the bar that much higher for him coming to New York.

His first season with the Rangers was his best putting up 25 goals and 33 assists. Paying over $7 million a year for a guy who only twice scored more than 50 points in his four seasons in New York wasn’t cutting it. Drury is a much loved player for what he’s done, but his final two seasons in New York saw him play 101 games while scoring 15 goals and adding 22 assists.

Should the Rangers add Richards, keep this in mind: Drury was 31 years old when they signed him and his production evaporated after two seasons. Brad Richards turned 31 in May and is coming off of a season that saw him suffer a concussion that limited his play and saw him unable to help the Dallas Stars make the playoffs. If the Rangers do plan on breaking the bank for Richards, they should be at least be wise about what could happen out of the blue.

  1. meeshka71 - Jun 9, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Drury is an over-paid, over-rated loser. This guy represents everything that is wrong with the Rangers. Why would you buy him out? I say give him a long term deal and a signing bonus.

    • whatagreatfootballmind - Jun 9, 2011 at 3:52 PM

      Your an idiot. An over-rated loser? Yeah, I guess winning a Stanley Cup with Colorado, a National Championship with BU, and an Olympic silver medal with Team USA. Yeah, I’d call him a “loser” too. Although since 2006-07 his goals have gone down each year, in the 2 season after that his assists did go up.

      As a Wild fan, knowing my favorite team is right up against the cap, I hope the Wild make a run at him for 2 mil a year. I’d offer more if they can somehow get arid of a bad contract or 2 they have. They need more help scoring and it wouldn’t cost the Wild any prospects or draft picks to add somebody who has burried the bisket 37 times in a season a handful of years ago and was a 20 goal scorer as recent as 2008-09.

      • stakex - Jun 9, 2011 at 5:04 PM

        As a Rangers fan, you know, someone who had to watch him the last four years, this is a GREAT day for us… and if you want him, hes yours. You’ll regret it, just like we did. He might have scored 37 goals a couple times, but those days are LONG gone. 15 goals over his last 100 games? Thats an average of about 10 goals a year. For $2 mil a year you can probably sign a solid 20 goal scorer… not someone who scored 20 goals three years ago.

        Your right about one thing… Dury isn’t a “loser” by any stretch of the imagination. Hes just over paid, and over the hill, neither of which is really his fault.

  2. govtminion - Jun 9, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Drury has always struck me as the guy that can make a good team great, but doesn’t help a mediocre team much. In Colorado and Buffalo, he had that good team to work with, but in New York it’s been a mixed bag. Hopefully he finds a role on a team that will be able to use him well- he’d be a great fit for Carolina or (if they can afford him) Chicago.

  3. asteinberg77 - Jun 9, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    Can’t stash him in the AHL, he has a No-Movement clause in his contract. Also, if they stashed him in the AHL, the Rangers would not be able to sign Richards, as both Drury’s and Redden’s contracts would count against the Summer Salary cap. Come on, do some research guys.

  4. atwatercrushesokoye - Jun 9, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Do the Rangers ever learn?! Let’s buy out one “big time” free agent signing so we can go out and make another big time free agent signing! So now both Maple Leaf and Rangers fans will think they’re the odds on favorites to sign Richards…hopefully neither does!

    Maybe one day the Rangers (and my team, the Flames, for that matter) will learn that the teams that are on top have built a foundation from prospects within their organization and then complimented those players with free agents and trades. This isn’t the NBA, you can’t build a team by signing three “superstars” and then just plugging in extra bodies around them!

    • stakex - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:36 PM

      Well to be fair, the Rangers team is in fact extreamly young… having been built mostly from prospects and draft picks. Callahan, Dubinsky, Lundquist, Anisimov, Del Zotto, Stall, Stepan, Sauer were all drafted by the Ragners over the last few years and made up the core of the Rangers last year. They also signed Gillroy strait out of college.

      So the Rangers have in fact learned to build from within. The thing is, its the free agents and trades part that Sather hasn’t figured out. There is nothing wrong with going out and trying to pick up a high powered scorer… especially since the Rangers haven’t been able to draft one. However Sather likes to throw super star money at middle of the pack players like Gomez, Drury, and Redden.

      There is no doubt that the Rangers need more scoring punch this year…. but Sather needs to learn that if you can’t get a top scorer, you can’t simply pay a middle of the pack scoerer super star money and expect him to perform at a top level (that was what happened with Drury).

  5. stakex - Jun 9, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    Great days as a Rangers fan. Absolutely great.

    I have nothing against Drury. He did the smart thing and took the big bucks when they were on the table. Can’t blame him for that at all. However the Rangers for some odd reason assumed he (and Gomez) would be able to fill the Jager gap… and that was never going to be the case. Drury was a solid player in his early days, but he was NEVER a super star and wasn’t worth anywhere close to $7 mil a season. He was expected to be a top tier scorer, and all he did was eat up cap space and kill penelties over the last couple years…. not good for someone making $7 mill. Best thing the Rangers could do is get rid of him (fire Sather while your at it), and spend the money somwhere else. I wish Drury luck somewhere else, but not here.

    As for Richards…. I see failure for Sather again. Hes going to go out and drop massive amounts of cash on another player who has likely already played his best hockey, and is coming off a pretty nasty injury last year. If its only for a year, then what ever… but Sather better avoid a long contract here until its clear Richards will still be a top player at this point. If Richard wants the really big bucks, let him walk and spend the money elsewhere.

  6. hanktheking - Jun 10, 2011 at 12:35 AM

    I hope the leafs over pay for Richards and that way we can use the money to lock up Callahan and Dubinsky long term. Adios Drury, it’s been..well..okay.

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