No Chris Drury Buy Out a Good Thing?

By Alexander Monaghan

Photo Credit: Bridget Samuels

The kid who got “got beat up at the bus stop Larry Brooks of The New York Post reported today that due to a degenerative knee problem, the New York Rangers would not be able to buy out their captain, Chris Drury. While Drury remains one of the more respected players on the team by both fans and teammates alike, his expected honorable discharge was seen as a complete change in identity from the old reign of overpaid underachievers to a young, blue collar team.

That change may still happen and most likely it could happen even quicker with the addition of top UFA pivot Brad Richards.

Although conflicting reports have Richards signing anywhere from Los Angeles to Toronto and most stops in between, GM Glen Sather and company can now offer him a the very least $7.05 million since that would replace Drury’s cap hit and put the team much closer to using his cap space prior to the beginning of the season. If that last sentence threw you off, you can see Brooks’ concise explanation in how putting the captain on LTIR would require the Rangers to spend.

But in order to gain the full value of the $7.05 million exemption, the Rangers would have to go that far over the cap. In other words, if the cap is $62.5 million (an estimation before it is officially established by June 30), the team would have to get to $69.5 million (including Drury) before the season-opener in Stockholm to reap the full LTI benefit.

Of course, Richards is now coming off a contract where he was paid him an even $7.8 million per season. If he expects a raise — as the top UFA he certainly can name his price — then the Rangers monetarily become the perfect match for him. Furthermore they no longer need to buy out one of the most respected players in the League and their 25th captain in team history.

On the other hand, giving Sather cap space is essentially giving a drunk teenager car keys. He managed to sign both Drury and Scott Gomez to two of the worst contracts in the history of the post-cap era, only to be outdone by an awful contract extension for Michal Rozsival and the infamous six-year, $39 million deal handed to an aging Wade Redden. Even his mid-range signings like Ales Kotalik wound up backfiring as Nick Montemagno of Rangers Tribune stated, via Twitter, “New York seems to be a tough fit for many.” Tough fit is right.

Regardless, with free money that team owner James Dolan can clearly afford, the Rangers have the ability of adding some good scoring depth to a team that finished 16th in the League (one behind arch-rival New York Islanders) with 224. The young core, which begins with Henrik Lundqvist in net and then builds out with a solid young blue line could use some secondary scoring which would allow the team to offer a proven forward like Jussi Jokinen, Ville Leino or even former Philadelphia Flyer Simon Gagne a better contract than most. Again, most players don’t work out in New York but perhaps under a strict coaching staff with a direction and an improving blue-collar core this thought process could become a reality.

After learning about Drury not getting bought out, most speculation moves to buying out players like Sean Avery, Erik Christensen and even Wojtek Wolski. All three of these moves would add wasted cap space onto the 2012-2013 cap which currently shows all three as off the books so at this point none necessarily need to be moved off the team in such a manner. Sather needs to deal with re-signing the RFAs like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Michael Sauer, Brian Boyle, Matt Gilroy and Artem Anisimov and should very well focus on their raises before worrying about making room. According to Cap Geek, the team currently holds $18.4125 million in space to deal with before the Drury report so these all seem like good problems to have for Sather.

With all this added cap space, or potential to make space rather, I open up the floor to our audience: