Rangers Report Cards: Chris Drury: B+ (B)
Last season, Drury faced some tough choices after a busy trade deadline. Players he’d acquired(Andrew Copp, Frank Vatrano, and Tyler Motte) sprouted wings and flew off to other teams, leaving him with a puzzle to solve. But boy, did he have some tricks up his sleeve.
Vincent Trocheck, a Carolina Hurricanes veteran, was lured in with a seven-year deal, reuniting with ex-coach Gerard Gallant. Jimmy Vesey got a second chance in the Rangers jersey, and Jaroslav Halak swooped in as the backup hero after Alexander Georgiev was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche.
Drury didn’t just stop there. He’s like that kid in the candy store who can’t have enough. Trade deadline deja vu: he shook things up again! This time, Sammy Blais packed his bags (and some draft picks) to bring in Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola from the ST Louis Blues.
Yes, Blais was like a boomerang in a Pavel Buchnevich trade twist. And, oh boy, Patrick Kane’s comments? Drury didn’t just hear them. He went ahead and made Kane a Ranger, adding some real firepower.
And what about Tyler Motte? Drury loved him so much that he reacquired him from the Ottawa Senators for some toughness and sent Julien Gauthier the other way. As for Ryan Reaves and Vitali Kravstov were like guests who overstayed their welcome; Drury sent them off in style. Reaves went to the Minnesota Wild, and Kravtsov was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks. Out of conference and out of sight.
Now, you might think Drury’s moves were the stuff of dreams. Yet alas, the playoffs turned into a nightmare, with the Rangers bowing out to the New Jersey Devils in a seven-game thriller.
Fast-forward to this offseason, Drury played a Cap-strapped magician. He swapped Tarasenko, who signed with Ottawa for Blake Wheeler, and Jaroslav Halak’s backup seat became Jonathan Quick’s. Tyler Pitlick and Nick Bonino joined the party on the fourth line, while Erik Gustafsson replaced Niko Mikkola, who went to the Florida Panthers on the defensive end.
Drury wasn’t done yet – he secured bridge deals for K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere, flexing that cap space. He even swapped coaches, saying goodbye to Gallant and waving in Peter Laviolette.
So, now the stage is set. The pieces are in place for a Stanley Cup showdown. However, the players and coaches have to do the heavy lifting. Drury’s script is written, but it’s the team that needs to deliver the blockbuster ending!