When news broke this morning that Chris Drury would be bought out by the New York Rangers, the fans and media in Buffalo exploded with the though/theory that Captain Clutch might return to the Queen City.
I had a few thoughts on the matter early on regarding the matter. When the news originally broke I didn’t think much of Drury’s impending UFA status other than what he could bring to the table. However, now that everyone and their brother is throwing their opinion in the ring, I feel like I have more thoughts on the matter.
It is my contention that Drury can help the Sabres, for the right price. His current deal runs for a $7M per season, his performance with the Rangers shows he is due for a pay cut. If he is looking to make more than $3M per season, no thank you. If he is willing to take a deal in the $1.5-$2.5 neighborhood then there is room to work.
Chris Drury offers the Sabres a very real opportunity to upgrade their talent at center. Right now Paul Gaustad is the number three center on the team and Derek Roy is currently the first/second center with a true number one center on the grocery list for the summer. Gaustad is a great defensive center, he is killer on faceoffs and brings a great physical presence. Not to mention he has leadership qualities. However, 12 goals a season may not be ideal from your third center. Drury would bump Gaustad to the fourth line. While Gaustad’s five-on-five ice time would decrease he would certainly still be called upon for penalty killing and key defensive zone situations. Drury would also see time in those situations, that is why signing him makes so much sense to me.
With Drury playing center for guys like Gerbe and Brad Boyes, Zack Kassian or whoever else plays on the right wing on the third line. If that case were true Gaustad would likely center Pat Kaleta and Cody McCormick, or whoever is signed to play wing on the fourth line. Just the thought of keeping Cody McCormick and Brad Boyes on the wing is an improvement. Having Chris Drury influencing players like Gerbe, Tyler Ennis and Kassian isn’t a bad thought either.If you ask me, the Sabres will be deeper and more responsible down the middle and in the defensive zone if Drury is brought in.
The only drawback in spending at least $2M on Drury is that there will be $2M less to spend on a number one center and any defensemen Darcy Regier is planning on signing. What a decision like this will boil down to will be if that $2M will seriously alter the long-term plans for this team. That is why I don’t see the Sabres making an offer to Drury. Not because of their past history or his recent injury trouble, but because every dollar that is going to be spent this offseason will likely go towards some serious talent and then depth forwards. It would be my guess that any new centers brought in for the bottom six forwards will be signed for under the $2M plateau. I would be willing to stretch up to $2M to sign this guy, I think at 35 he still brings enough to the table to make the Sabres a better team.