In four seasons with the New York Rangers, Chris Drury has averaged .57 points per game and his production has decreased significantly the last two seasons because of injuries. He missed 27 games last year due to a knee injury that required surgery and didn’t score a goal until the last day of the regular season — his first game back since the injury.
He’s damaged goods for sure, but with word out that the Rangers plan to buy him out, I don’t think Drury returning to Buffalo would be an awful idea.
Now there’s no question that cost is a major factor in all of this. At 34 years old, I don’t think you can expect Drury to enjoy the same type of success he had as a Sabres six years ago. He’s an older player now and it’s unrealistic to expect him to score anywhere near 37 goals again.
This prom queen isn’t as pretty at your 10-year reunion as she was when you graduated.
What the Sabres (or any team that signs him) would be paying for — now more than ever — are his intangibles. When he was with the Sabres, he was always more of the locker room leader while Daniel Briere was the on-ice general. Drury had the attitude and demeanor the team, scratch that, the franchise desperately needed. Drury was the one who said there should be a picture of the Stanley Cup hanging in the dressing room.
It’s like signing Rob Niedermayer. He’s a veteran with a ring. Drury probably has more offensive upside, but they’re both essentially defensive specialists at this point.
Bringing Drury back might be like having an older Paul Gaustad on the team. A guy who will win faceoffs, kill penalties and not put in a whole bunch of goals. And probably a guy who shouldn’t be on the powerplay considering who else is on the team. That’s not necessarily a good thing, especially when what the team really needs is a dynamic center who has a long future with the club.
Another problem is that the roster has finally gotten over losing Drury and Briere. It took a long time, but it’s safe to say the team has moved on. Guys who were role players when Drury was here are now a part of the core that younger players look up to. Drury wouldn’t be a part of the new core. Sure the Vaneks and Pominvilles may still look to him if he’s in the room, but they’re the ones who should be answering the tough questions because it’s their team now.
There are always room for character guys like Drury on a team, but at this point in his career, he can’t be the centerpiece. Will he accept a limited role? If he wants to play anywhere in the league, he’ll probably have to.
And a note to the Rangers: If you’re buying out Drury to make room to sign Brad Richards, be prepared to buy out Brad Richards five years from now. Vicious cycle, there.
Drury still has some gas left in the tank, although the gauge is moving closer and closer to “E.” If Drury does come back and the odds of that are probably slim, it would be hard not to romanticize the signing and remember all of those great moments from 2006 and 2007.
To do that would be dangerous.