It appears as if the New York Rangers will buy out the final year of Chris Drury’s massive contract when the NHL buyout period begins on June 15.
Drury’s $7M cap hit on his $35M deal is a crippling contract for the Rangers. He is part of a group of questionable signings that is not limited to guys like Wade Redden from a big free agency summer of 2007. Sabres fans enjoy booing him because he bolted for a king’s ransom from the Blueshirts. Often they forget he had reached a deal, in principle, but paper work and a certain owner kept the contract from being signed.
The hot topic of Sabres water cooler talk will be if Darcy Regier should resign the former captain. Who wouldn’t want another 35-year-old captain who could be scratched for a younger, more offensive option in certain games? At least it wouldn’t be an unfamiliar path for the Sabres.
All kidding aside, bringing Drury in wouldn’t be the worst choice in the history of hockey. The only way I would sign him is if his contract is for $2M or less per season. Anything more and you’re wasting money that could be spent on a top six forward or stud defenseman. By Drury could still be a valuable asset to this team, that is why I would be interested in him.
Drury is going to go down as one of the greatest leaders in the history of the game. His presence in the room would certainly be similar to that of Mike Grier this past season. That type of leadership and attitude is hard to come by. Plus, Drury addresses the need at center, in a roundabout sense. He wouldn’t fill anymore than a third-line role. However, if he was to be the primary checking center, it would allow Paul Gaustad to center the fourth line. Immediately your depth at center is improved. Sure, he offers no solution to the lack of a top flight center, but you wouldn’t be signing him to fill that role anyway.
The sticking point for Sabres fans should be the fact that Drury makes you better down the middle and in your zone. He would allow guys like Cody McCormick and Brad Boyes to stay on the wing, a place where they’re better suited to play. He also brings a level of responsibility and commitment to the room that is still being cultivated in the younger core players.
So long as the price is right, for me it needs to be under $2 million, I would bring him in and see what he has to offer. I don’t see that kind of money as handcuffing the bigger moves that are expected to be in the works.