Chris Drury. The debate has gone on for weeks in Buffalo, ever since it's been rumored out of New York that Glen Sather was planning on buying out Chris Drury's last year. Buying out Drury's last year will save the Rangers over 3.3 Million in cap space this year, so whether they pursue any kind of free agent or not, this is a no brainer. Drury was virtually useless for the Rangers this past season, playing in just 24 regular season games. He's had 5 points. 1 goal. Sounds like a 500k player on paper. But, in this day and age, Drury has drifted away from the score sheet and joined the invaluable intangibles sheet. Penalty killing, blocking shots, leadership, effort, heart. Not being able to get yourself on the scoring sheet too often does not warrent a high contract, I'll be the first to admit that. But having a guy like this on your team at an affordable 1-1.5M contract? He just went from albatross to invaluable.
The best arguements I've heard against Drury is that he's another Grier, except with a little more gas in the tank, as well as "this team is not moving forward by signing him." Let me address these issues. The first one is extremely easy. Drury was the heart and soul of this franchise for the three years he played for the Sabres. When Mike Grier was around the first time, he was also an unsung captain in his own right. But this was Drury's team. He PP'd, PK'd, scored goals and blocked shots. Sounds like Paul Gaustad combined with Thomas Vanek. That's the guy the Ranger's would dish out a ton of cash for, and rightly so. They signed him until his 36th birthday. Not what I would do, but that's why Glen Sather is the king of albatross. Now, I heard the debating on whether it would be a good idea to keep Mike Grier around after the Sabres lost to the Flyers this post season. I think we all came to the conclusion he's just too slow and aged to keep up with the young game the NHL is turning into. So we're losing leadership in Grier and to a lesser extent, Neidermeyer. Now, who wouldn't want another Grier back out on the ice for the Sabres who can still compete? Drury is that guy. He will help Vanek lead this team. He will bleed for this team like every team he's ever played on. When healthy, he will score. Mark my words.
Now I'll address the second arguement. Would bringing back Drury show that this team is not willing to move forward? I don't believe so. Mainly, because Drury is not being brought back as that $7M player he was five years ago. He has a different purpose these days. The 'Thomas Vanek' portion of him I mentioned earlier seems to have left him, but he still has all the utility man power he showed in the 2010 Olympics. And you know what? I'm willing to bet Captain Clutch scores a few GWGs this coming season. He'd come to the Sabres in a different role. An assistant captain that will be a powerful voice in the locker room.
Now I will present my arguement to bring him in. Who's not being resigned by the Sabres in all likeliness? Mike Grier, Rob Neidermeyer, and Tim Connolly (also Steve Montador, but he's not relevant to my arguement.) What did these three bring? First off, the brought about $7M in salary. The brought a total of 23 goals. That's about $304,000 per goal. Chris Drury's last full season had him seeing third line minutes. He also scored 14 goals. Even paying him at a high $2M, that's about $143,000 per goal. So by simple math, not only do you save five million dollars in cap space (probably more,) you only sign one guy instead of three. You also get your third/fourth line center who can win faceoffs when Goose is off the ice. Second, these three folks brought leadership and penalty killing. Chris Drury brings these characteristics too. He can score as much as Connolly can, he can skate faster than Grier, he can shoot better than Grier and Neids, and he has a hell of a lot more heart than ol' Timmy.
To be fair, I need to supply a reason to not sign him. I can think of one. Injury prone. He's getting old. He plays the type of game where he'd rather block the puck than the goalie, no matter what type of shot it is. He plays a dangerous game for a man of his age, but I truely believe he'd be a great asset to this still young team losing their greybeards. I think every team needs at least one or two to be able to steer the ship when it falls off course. I only hope Pegulaville realizes this. Bring on Chris for one more year.