The NHL buyout period has opened today, and it's largely expected Glen Sather will buyout Chris Drury at some point between now and June 30th.
As we analyzed here before, the New York Rangers would stand to save $3.3 million if they were to exercise their buyout ability on Drury during this timespan. That would make plenty of room for a potential big-name free agent signing (Brad Richards) or use to re-sign some of the Rangers restricted free agents (Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, etc.).
While this is a move that definitely makes sense for the Rangers, there is no doubt the team is losing a leader and a good person. It's sad to see Drury's career take such a significant fall, but sometimes that's the way things work, especially in sports.
Wojtek Wolski and Sean Avery have also been added to the "potential buyout" players on this year's list. Most reports have Avery, and it's really been a flip of the coin when it comes to Wolski. My guess? I would keep them both. Wolski brings a lot to the table, and he's on the final year of his contract. Worse comes to worst you trade him for a pick at the deadline. Anyway, this isn't about Wolski or Avery, it's about Drury.
Join me after the jump for more on him.
If there is a way to sum up Drury's tenure with the Rangers, it's probably misunderstood. The fact that he came here under such a big contract automatically put expectations on him from a fan standpoint that weren't realistic. He was being paid (as was same-day signee Scott Gomez) as a top-line center. But that's not where he was best suited. So though his numbers for his first two years as a Ranger (25 goals and 33 assists in 82 games in 2007-08 and 22 goals and 34 assists in 81 games the next season, not to mention his trademark gritty defensive play) were both very solid, unfairly judged against his contract, they were seen as a disappointment. Certainly his offense slipped the last two seasons but his penalty kill contributions and defensive play were invaluable at times. Drury was also misunderstood as a captain because while he would always sit at his locker to talk to the media after games, he mastered the art of the vanilla quote. So the outside perception of him as a captain was not as a forceful, vocal leader. But his teammates and Tortorella always told a different story, saying the public didn't get to see what a great leader Drury was in the room. In short, the players swore by him as their captain. For instance, Drury made it a point to talk to all the playoff newbies and youngsters prior to the Capitals series, just to try and give them some sense of what lay ahead.
I have said it here before and I will say it again. We were not in the locker room this year, so we had no idea what type of leader Drury was. Obviously, from someone who was in the locker room on a nightly basis, Drury was the type of leader the Rangers expected him to be when the signed him.
No, he would never be able to live up to the contract he signed. But it's not his fault, the expectations placed on him were unfair, and his age didn't help matters.
Despite some reports coming out that Sather was not going to be buying out Drury, most of the beat reporters are treating it an as inevitability. Even John Tortorella hinted to it at the Rangers breakup day press conference. With Sather's ideology to get this team younger this is a move that helps the team fit that mold.
And in the end, it makes the most sense for the team to save the extra $3.3 million, especially since they could use the flexibility in the upcoming months.
Anyway, thoughts on this guys?