According to an article today by Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers will be unable to buy out the final year of Chris Drury’s contract due to a “degenerative” knee condition that will make the Rangers’ captain medically unable to play next season.
It was reported by multiple outlets last week, including us, that the Rangers intended to buy out Drury at some point this offseason to receive cap relief in order to make changes to the roster and sign their RFA’s. However, per the CBA, a team cannot buy out a player with an injury.
Continue reading after the jump to see what the Rangers options are:
This is a monkey wrench in to the Rangers’ engine but by no means stops them completely. With the summer cap allowing you to go over the salary cap by 10% and the expected salary cap to rise to between $60-63 million, the Rangers have time to figure out exactly what they want to do, including placing Drury on Long-Term Injured Reserve at the beginning of next season. Here’s an excerpt from Brooks’ article explaining just that.
Under terms of the CBA, the captain will have to report to training camp in September for the team physical. If Drury fails, as would be expected, he would qualify for a long-term injury (LTI) exemption when the season begins and the roster is set.
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 were $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.
In essence, the Rangers would have to intentionally inflate their cap in order to receive the full LTIR benefits. One way to accomplish that would be to sign Brad Richards to whatever he desires. Giving that kind of option to Glen Sather will undoubtedly make Rangers’ fans cringe.
Here are the other options:
1) The most popular of reasons amongst Rangers fans – Drury retires. If Chris Drury were to walk away from his final year, the Rangers would be completely off the hook for the $5 million owed to him. Fans will point to Markus Naslund doing the same gesture 2 seasons ago, leaving $4 million on the table. Although, this situation is much more complicated.
2) Filing a grievance against Drury - As Larry Brooks mentions, Chairman James Dolan could file a grievance against Drury considering the Rangers were already planning a buy out. However, this would be an extremely messy situation and would also bring the NHLPA in and, ideally, you don’t want that.
3) Buy out another contract – Coincidentally, if the Rangers bought out Wojtek Wolski’s contract, they would save the same amount as Drury’s. It has been an idea discussed in previous weeks and could be a route the Rangers follow. But, I feel the Rangers value Wolski’s offensive potential more and would lean on the side of keeping him.
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