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Chris Drury accepts buyout from New York Rangers and will become free agent

Jun 29, 2011, 2:51 PM EDT

Chris Drury Getty Images

The Chris Drury era in New York is over.

After speculation that’s been raging for the last month or so saying the Rangers would buy out the team captain, the hammer fell today as the Rangers will end their relationship with Drury and buy him out of the final year of his contract. While Drury had the option to not go waivers thanks to his no-movement clause, he chose to accept the buyout from the team and look to play elsewhere next season.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post broke the news today and got the scoop from Drury himself.

“It was a great honor and privilege to be a New York Ranger for the past four years, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to fulfill that childhood dream,” Drury said in a statement that was sent to The Post by e-mail. “The Rangers are a first-class organization with great people in the hockey, public relations, team services and community relations departments.

“I would also like to thank Ranger fans. They always inspired me to do the best I could in whatever role I was asked to play. Playing before them in the Garden was a thrill of a lifetime. I wish all the fans and the entire Ranger organization the best of luck in the future.”

Forever the classy player, Drury goes out with the Rangers after what proved to be a productive but still disappointing career in Manhattan. While Drury’s role with the team after signing in New York as a free agent from Buffalo was clear as a solid penalty killer and leader, the contract he was given that paid him $35 million over five years put expectations on him to be a first line scorer and player to eventually raise the Stanley Cup again in New York.

That never happened however as Drury’s role as a playmaker without Daniel Briere at his side like he had in Buffalo and instead making due with a disinterested Jaromir Jagr and eventually Marian Gaborik proved to not work out at all. Drury joined New York along with Scott Gomez for virtually identical deals and neither player worked out very well and while Drury was mostly appreciated in New York, he still didn’t meet their expectations. Injuries put a major damper in his season this year as he battled a broken finger and a knee injury to play in just 24 games this year as well as all five games in the playoffs.

With Drury bought out now, GM Glen Sather will have over $3 million in dead cap space to deal with this year and nearly $2 million in dead space next season thanks to the NHL CBA buyout rules that say the cap hit is 2/3′s of the amount spread out over twice the length of the deal remaining. With just one year left on Drury’s contract, it pays out quietly over this season and next. The Rangers will have to get deals done with restricted free agents Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky still but they’re in need of a top line playmaker and are going to be hot after Brad Richards.

If nothing else, how things played out with Drury should be a reminder to Sather and to the Dolan family that owns the Rangers that sometimes the big fish on the market doesn’t always get you the ultimate prize you’re looking for. While the Drury signing happened back in the summer of 2007, it’s one that should sit fresh in their minds as they wade into a free agent market with one big 31 year-old prize out there.

  1. jpelle82 - Jun 29, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    C-ya! best move they’ve made in years besides dumping gomez (ha ha montreal). i like the way they are re-shaping the franchise to be more competitive. maybe they have finally realized they cant just buy the most expensive free agents and expect to win.

    • stakex - Jun 29, 2011 at 5:00 PM

      “maybe they have finally realized they cant just buy the most expensive free agents and expect to win.”

      You say that, yet all indications are that the Rangers are going to throw big money at Brad Richards on Friday. Sounds like going out and buying the most expensive (and over rated) free agent is EXACTLLY what the Rangers are planning to do.

      Not only that, but the Rangers are heading for a repeat of the Drury situation with Richards if they do sign him. He is 31 years old, has never scored more then 28 goals in a season, has just two seasons in which he was a point a game player, is a career plus/minus -72, and had a nasty concusion last year… which makes future concusions and health problems more likely. Given all that, if the Rangers drop big money on Richards, which is what I think most people expect right now, there is a good chance we will be having the “I’m so glad the Rangers got rid of Richards” talk in a few years. If they can’t get him for a good price, they should forget about him…. but knowing Sather, they will pay him far mor then hes worth and give him a 6-8 year contract, taking him well into the twilight years of his career.

      I hope I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure its going to be you jpelle. Sather has shown that he has no business being a GM in the NHL today… and also that he has no concept of what a Salary Cap is. Expect him to make a massive mistake with Richards, and continue to try and buy big names to win.

      • jpelle82 - Jun 30, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        i agree that richards would be a mistake because of the money he thinks he deserves…but they have gaping holes in the middle of the ice and are backed into a corner

  2. bmitarotondo - Jun 29, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    i just threw up in my mouth a little. BRAD RICHARDS!!! signing richards would be the same mistake they made signing drury. nothing against drury, it wasnt his fault the rangers signed him for $7mil per for 5 years, but he just wasnt worth what the rangers paid him. the only way they get richard is with a similarly horendous deal. THINK WITH YOUR DIPSTICK JIMMY(dolan)!!! dont do it

    • bwayblues79 - Jun 29, 2011 at 4:57 PM

      You’re so far off base with comparing Richards to Drury it’s not even funny. While I understand and agree with the hesitation to throw big money at anyone, Richards has a long history of putting up huge numbers … and doing so for multiple franchises. Drury was paid a fortune based on the incorrect assumption that his productivity of ONE season, playing alongside another top player, would translate to several more seasons in the 60-70 point range. The other reasons for the signing were based on scoring clutch goals, doing dirty work, and being a leader … two out of three things he did for the Rangers.

      I’m not saying Richards is the end-all, be-all for the Rangers. However, he does have a boat-load of talent, will fit in with Torts and the Rangers system, and is a much better bet than even the Gaborik gamble was. In fact, he may make Gabs even better than he has been since coming to The Garden.

      • stakex - Jun 29, 2011 at 7:09 PM

        I don’t know where you get your facts, but you should get them somewhere else.

        Actually look at, and compare Drury’s career stats with Richards… and you might be shocked a bit. Yes Richards has put up somewhat bigger numbers, but they are far from “huge”.

        Some facts:

        1. Drury’s most productive goal scoring season saw him score 37 goals. Thats 9 goals more then Richards has ever scored in a season (28 goals in a season are NOT monster numbers)… and it wasn’t a fluke either, as Drury also scored 30 goals the season before that.

        2. Richards for his career isn’t even a point a game player. I wouldn’t call that “huge”.

        3. Richards is a plus/minus -72 for his career.

        4. Richards has put up 91 points twice (not “huge” numbers for a top player). Other then that whats his highest point total? 79… less then a point a game.

        5. Gaborik was a known, and proven goal scorer (far better then Richards) when he was signed, so there wasn’t really a “gamble” there. Sure there was some questions about his health… but no one doubted how productive he could be. He was also 4 years younger then Richards when he was signed.

        6. Going to the last point: Richards is 31… the odds are his most productive seasons are behind him, or might happen in the next year or two. If the Rangers give him a long contract there is a great chance they will be paying big bucks during the years in which Richards production takes a noes dive….. just like Drury.

        ——————————————-

        I’m not saying Richards can’t help the Rangers in the short term. However, you make it sound like hes the next Gretzky or something… and hes not. I wouldn’t even count Richards as one of the top 10 (probably even 20) players in the league right now. If the Rangers could get him cheap, then absolutely they should. I agree he would likely make Gaborik better, and the Rangers absolutely need a number one center.

        However the Rangers also need to re-sign Callahan and Dubinsky, both of which showed great progress last year. Should they really throw huge amounts of salary cap at a 31 year old player whos not going to put up super star numbers… possibly at the expense of some very promising young talent? Not if they want to win a cup in the future.

  3. bwayblues79 - Jun 30, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Richards is way better than you’re alluding to.

    You’re assessing Richards solely on goals and +/- … which shows you’re probably not a good Fantasy Hockey manager. I realize the Rangers need to score more goals, but most centers in the NHL earn their dollars as set-up guys. Take 2009-10 numbers (only because I found those first): Malkin (28g, 49a), Nic Backstrom (33g, 68a), H. Sedin (29g, 83a). Stamkos and Crosby are exceptions where they score as often as they assist. You get centers for their assists, and when they can average between 20 and 30 goals per season, that’s a very good upside.

    As for +/-, you’re disregarding that Richards played for teams that could be labeled (generously) as sub par defensively (TB’s Cup year withstanding). Ignoring his stupid contract with the Devils, are you saying that Ilya Kovalchuk, on the right team, isn’t worth his point-per-game career average (702 in 702) because of his career -101 plus/minus rating? I love Chris Drury, but he has cracked the 60-point mark four times in his 12-year career. Richards has done it eight times in 11 seasons.

    Richards has one concussion that he seems to have recovered from pretty nicely. We won’t know for sure how he responds, but there is always some risk in signing any player. However we did know that Gaborik missed significant time in two of his five post-lockout seasons due to injury, prior to signing him. Richards doesn’t have that history.

    Finally, I guess “huge numbers” depends on the way you break it down. A 72-point season is .96 points per game. That’s pretty damn close to a point-per-game season. More importantly, it’s far ahead of what anyone else on the Rangers is doing right now (.70 ppg for Dubinsky last season, led the team). The Rangers aren’t going to get a Stamkos, Crosby, Ovechkin, or Sedin via trade or free agency. Richards is the closest thing they will have the opportunity to get for the next several years. GMs will ALWAYS have to pay top-dollar for a guy of Richard’s caliber. Supply and demand. If the Rangers don’t, someone else will, and they’ll still have a gaping hole in the scoresheet. That being said, Sather doesn’t need to give him 8 years either.

    Of course signing Dubinsky and Callahan are top priorities. No one said they weren’t.

    Oh, and stop comparing people to Gretzky. I didn’t say that and no one in their right mind does. No one is going to ever put his numbers up again.

    • bwayblues79 - Jun 30, 2011 at 11:30 AM

      One adjustment: 72-point season is .88 ppg. My bad math. Still .18 better than anyone on the Rangers.

    • bmitarotondo - Jun 30, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      bottom line-richards is going to be looking for at least the same contract the rangers gave drury 4 years ago(5 years at $7 mil per). he is probably looking to top that because of the higher salary cap and the fact that he is better than drury. but no gm in the league should be looking to drop that kind of coin and years ona 31 year old coming off of a bad concussion. that being said, if there is a gm in the league stupid enough to do it, sather is the guy.

  4. bbk1000 - Jun 30, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    Sather is one of the worst GM in sports, I still don’t understand why he has a job. He is to the Rangers what Isiah Thomas was to the Knicks, unreal.

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