Since arriving in New York in the Summer of 2007, Chris Drury has had a rather interesting stint with the Rangers. “Captain Clutch” was brought in to be the total package – score goals, play exceptional in his own end, and be a great leader & captain. And he’s done everything on that list except one – score. After 2 straight 30-goal campaigns in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Drury hasn’t come close to scoring that much with the Rangers and in every season since his first (2007-08), Drury’s point totals have been in a steady decline (58,56, and a scary 32 last season).
With a fresh season ahead of him, would we see the same Chris Drury we’ve become accustom to? Or would we see a rejuvenated captain, ready to prove his doubters wrong?
Let’s examine Chris Drury’s 2010-2011 season:
What We Expected
Truthfully, more than we should have and that can be blamed on his contract. When you’re paid $7 million a year, there’s an expectation attached to that. And it is to score…and score often. However, if you’re a realistic Rangers’ fan then you know Chris Drury hasn’t been the 30-goal, 70-point guy he was in Buffalo since arriving on Broadway. He’s been a great leader, face-off man, penalty killer, and reliable in his own end. That’s what you’re going to get from Chris Drury at this point in his career. But, coming into this season with a finger injury, Drury’s season was off to a bad start rather quickly.
His season before this one, Drury scored 32 points (14g, 18a) in 77 games played. Despite being told by coach Tortorella he would be used in a more limited role, it wasn’t unreasonable to think a healthy Chris Drury could not only get similar numbers but also improve upon them.
How He Did
It was a lost season for Chris Drury. All in all, the captain missed 58 games due to finger & knee injuries. However, the most troubling aspect of his season was when he did play, he had zero offensive production in his game. The goal of playing Drury in limited minutes was to keep him fresh throughout the long season and to put him in a position to help the team offensively. Drury ended the season with 5 points (1g, 4a): numbers that scarcely helped the Rangers. Interestingly, looking at Drury’s points, all 5 of them were scored at Madison Square Garden in 13 games, comparing 0 points in 11 games on the road.
Drury wasn’t a complete failure this season. He was effective on the defensive side of the puck. On a team that struggled all year to win important face-offs, Drury was the best center on the team, finishing with a 55.8% winning rate. Drury also contributed to the Rangers’ PK that finished 7th in the NHL with an 81.3% conversion rate.
In the 5 game playoff series against the Washington Capitals, Drury scored one assist and continued his face-off successes with a 63.1% rate.
Plus, we all know that Drury plays the role of mentor on and off the ice. Players like Artem Anisimov benefitted from having Drury in their ear offering insight and advice. Derek Stepan told the media during the season that Chris Drury basically took him under his wing.
Final Grade: INCOMPLETE
I don’t think it’s fair to give Chris Drury a letter grade due to the limited amount of games he played. However, that doesn’t excuse him from having his season critiqued like it has. He season was derailed by injuries and when he was in the lineup, he wasn’t very effective. You can attribute that to a multitude of things – age, lack of offensive rhythm, declining skills etc. However, Drury was able to turn back the clock once this season and be “Captain Clutch.” In the final game of the regular season against the NJ Devils, Chris Drury surprisingly returned from his knee injury and arthroscopic surgery to play and help his team get into the playoffs. On his first shift back, Drury was able to convert on a rebound in front of Marty Brodeur and scored his only goal of the season; at the most critical part of the year. Drury’s goal energized his team that went on to a 5-2 win and a ticket to the Playoffs. It was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak year for the captain.
So far this offseason, there has been a ton of speculation as to what the Rangers will do with Chris Drury. He’s got a $7 million cap-hit this year and a no-movement clause, which means the Rangers can’t “Wade Redden” him to the AHL. Beat writers and bloggers have written about the Rangers’ buying out the remaining year and benefits to it. Here are quotes from John Tortorella that Andrew Gross was able to get on break up day (April 25th):
“You have to look at where does he fit?” Tortorella said, before later adding, “Dru is getting older, that’s why he has a chronic knee.”
Drury does have a no-movement clause in his deal so a buyout would likely be the Rangers’ only option if they decide that Drury no longer fits for them.
“You have to be careful about this stuff,” Tortorella said. “It’s not my total decision. But I have my thoughts on it all.”
Your future is rather grim if the head coach has doubts as to whether or not you’ll fit on the team next year and you’re still the captain of said team. However, from a business standpoint, is it penny wise or pound foolish to have a bloated contract on the team that doesn’t score and just wins faceoffs, block shots, and provides leadership? Or is it wiser to allocate that money elsewhere? Those questions will be answered in the coming weeks.