Say what you want about Glen Sather, but at least when he makes a mistake, he also makes it disappear. In recent years, the New York Rangers have been plagued by enormous contracts that have detracted not only from the team’s play, but their maneuverability with the salary cap. Regardless of what Sather can accomplish in his remaining years here, he will be remembered for five things: Jaromir Jagr, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Michal Rozsival, and Wade Redden. Of those five, only one had positive implications, while the other four served to cripple the team’s ability to find cap space. But over the last three seasons, the Rangers have found a way to deal with them. Gomez was shipped to Montreal for prospect Ryan McDonagh, who had a breakout rookie campaign this season. Rozsival was dealt to Phoenix this past year for Wojtek Wolski, who the Rangers have confirmed will not be bought out. And of course, last September, the worst contract of them all came off the books, when Redden was banished to the team’s AHL affiliate in Hartford.
Drury has remained the last of these, even as his play seemed to deteriorate with each passing season. But today, we have learned that the Rangers plan to buy out the final year of his contract. This decision was proposed, and expected, by most of the fan base over the last year or so, and now it will finally come to fruition. This transaction will still cost the Rangers some money, but it will free up even more, and also frees up a roster spot that can go to a free agent acquisition who will hopefully have some offensive talent. To my knowledge, the Rangers do not have a budding center prospect who is ready to come in and play this season.
Now, Drury’s tenure in New York was not all bad, by any means. In his first two seasons, he put up exactly what his career averages suggested he would do. 58 and 56 points, respectively, were right in his neighborhood, as were the 25 and 22 goals. However, because fans have a habit of expecting players to double their career highs when they put on a Rangers’ jersey, he was going to be a failure no matter what, especially with a team struggling to score goals. He was a victim of circumstance as much as he was a victim of his own play, which saw him sink down to only 14 goals and 18 assists in the 2009/10 season. This past year was muddled by injuries, and he recorded only 1 goal in 24 games. Although supposedly a great leader in the locker room, and we know of his great defensive ability, there was just no reason to keep him around any longer, not with a $7 million cap hit.
According to CapGeek’s buyout calculator, the Rangers will be charged $1.6 million both this season and next, while saving $3.3 million this season, and losing money next. Even so, this adds to the Rangers cap room that they will need if they want to pursue a upper-tier free agent such as Brad Richards this summer.
I am happy to see this move in the works, though I admit it is unfortunate it had to end this way. I remember July 1, 2007 like it was yesterday, and was elated when I heard the news the Rangers were getting both Drury and Gomez. I was upset that Michael Nylander could not have been retained, but it was not going to matter. The Rangers were finally going to move into that upper echelon of teams. Four years later, my, how wrong we all were. I wish Drury all the best, and hope he will find a job with another NHL team.