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"Talking New York Rangers Hockey, since 2007"
New York, NY • United States • 23 Years Old • Male
They were made the second and third highest paid centers in the league. They were rewarded greatly for having accomplished nothing, their salaries coming as major investments into the future of the franchise. They were to step in and become the leaders of the team and take the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup. However, what was lost in all of the fanfare and glory of the July 1st stunner was quickly pointed out at the start of the season. Chris Drury and Scott Gomez are good, even great, centers but they are not the 2nd and 3rd best in the league. They are great teammates, but still need time to get a feel for the new club. They are players that improve a team but will not bring them from rags to riches in one season.

Comparables are everything in the NHL today. They are the sole factors that determine salaries in a league where organizations have not gotten a solid feel for who is worth what. Comparably, Gomez and Drury did not earn their keeps this season. The former Devil boasted a cap hit of 7.357 million dollars while the former Sabre took in 7.050 million. Other centers that earned over 6.5 million dollars include Brad Richards, Vinny Lecavalier, Pavel Datsyuk, Joe Thornton and Daniel Briere. Not only do these two belong in this group fame-wise, they also are well behind stats-wise. This season, Drury picked up 25 goals and 33 assists for 58 points and Gomez 16 goals and 54 helpers for a total of 70 points. The other five players in the same salary range averaged 30 goals, 54 assists and 84 points, marks that rest well above the output of Drury and Gomez.

The acquisition of these two centers also had the feel of being the last piece of the puzzle for the Rangers, who had made the playoffs in the past two years and came close to making it to the Conference Finals in 2007. This expectation also led to disappointment, as the Rangers were ousted in the second round for the second straight year, this time more convincingly than the prior. The two centers were almost a non-factor in the five game loss to Pittsburgh as they combined for only 2 goals and 5 assists. Their ineffectiveness hurt their own production as well as that of their line mates. Jaromir Jagr virtually carried the team through the series, but his efforts were not enough and backup was not forthcoming from the other 3 lines. Another playoff disappointment leads one to wonder whether the two centers are enough to lead this team to a Cup and if indeed their salaries could have been better spent.

The intangibles are the only hope to rescue Drury and Gomez from their under-acheivements. Both had strong second half performances after looking lost on ice before the all-star-break. That type of adjustment period was expected, but in their case it took longer than expected. Additionally, while either Drury or Gomez was expected to center Jaromir Jagr on the first line, they ended up skating on the second and third lines as rookie Brandon Dubinsky meshed well with the Rangers captain. This lack of ice time and lack of Jagr contributed to their statistically unimpressive seasons. The Rangers also brought up a crop of rookie wingers including Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan who subtracted from the effectiveness of the two centers. There are certainly a fair share of excuses for the underperformance of Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, but they can only be proven hazards of circumstance by next season's performance.

This brings us to the biggest issue in this signing: the future. Gomez and Drury were not brought in to win a Cup this season. The Rangers are going through the late stages of transition, from veterans like Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and Martin Straka, to younger sparkplugs such as Dawes, Dubinsky and Staal. There is always a drop-off in performance when the older players leave and the younger players are forced to fill their shoes. Glen Sather was trying to avoid this, to keep Rangers fans interested after so many years of failure. The Rangers GM was beginning a youth movement, but needed to build the new team around strong supporting figures, men who had been there before and still had many years to go. Gomez and Drury have won a combined 3 Stanley Cups, but are both in their prime seasons of hockey. They will be in New York for 7 and 5 years respectively and will lead this team when Jagr and Shannahan decide to hang up the skates. This year's success if important, but pales in comparison to the task ahead for the two centers. They have become the face of the New York Rangers and have time to bring a Stanley Cup to the Canyon of Heroes.

It was not the best off-season for the Rangers. Glen Sather could have re-signed Michael Nylander instead of Drury but Jagr's favorite pivot wanted too many years. He could have used Gomez's money to sign a defenseman, a position the Rangers have proven to be lacking in. However, as the salary cap continues to inflate, the Rangers cap space goes up. As teams gain more cap room, player salaries skyrocket. While the Rangers overpaid Drury and Gomez, they could not have gotten them for less, nor could they have gotten comparable talent later on for better value. NHL salaries are a rising market and it is best to buy cheap and early, while hording the merchandise when its value goes up. In that light, the Rangers made a strong investment. They no longer need to worry about the center position and they can afford to spend freed up cash on defensemen and wingers. Many players on this past season's roster will not return to the Rangers in 2008-09. Knowing his team and knowing the market, Glen Sather did the right thing, if not the best thing and gave this franchise many years of hope.

My first blog on HockeyBuzz dealt with the acquisition of Drury and Gomez. At that time, neither player had played a shift wearing the Broadway blue. However, the answer to the ever present question remains the same. "Drury and Gomez: Good Signings or Same Old Rangers," the title screamed, and once again, we must answer by looking forward. Will both players improve with time and finally make the Rangers contenders, or will they wallow in mediocrity along with a team that is overpaid and under-producing? That is yet to be seen, but Rangers fans hope and pray that the former is the case and that they can relive the glory of 1994 once again. Any of the next four years can bring Camelot for Rangers fans, and if it does, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez will be the Knights of the Round Table.
Filed Under:   future   year 1   rags2riches   rags2riches   drury   gomez  
May 18, 2008 6:28 PM ET | Delete
I noticed under your title it says "The Quest To Be The Next Great Blogger." Well, let's just consider this a step in the wrong direction on your quest. First of all, this post is filled with inconsistency. In one of the opening paragraphs you say they were brought in to bring the Rangers to the Cup, but later you say they were not brought in to win a Cup this season. Second, they may have underachieved in comparison to other centers, but not in respect to their careers. Gomez exceeded his career point average by 6 (70-64), and Drury equaled his (58) exactly. Finally, the idea that these 2 signings may still be compared to those of the "Old Rangers", such as Lindros, Bure, Kovalev, Holik, etc., is pretty unfair. Like I said, both of these players performed at the same level they have their whole career, and both are in their prime.
May 18, 2008 6:41 PM ET | Delete
First, thank you for your comments. Second, I did say at the start that they were brought in to win a Cup, but did not specify when. Later, I said they were not brought in to specifically win a Cup this season and followed it up later by saying their task is to win a cup in the future. Hardly an inconsistancy. Third, it is true that they were at career average or somewhat above it, that is a disappointment. Drury hasnt gotten so few points in quite a few season, so his average is not an appropriate approximation of his expecattions. Gomez was better than his average and years before, but he has had better years. He was expected to come on to a more talented offensive team than the Devils and set career highs. that he didnt is also underacheiving, to a lesser extent than Gomez. Fourth, I only made one refernce to the Old Rangers, that only being in reference to a previous post. Though it may not be considered as bad as the moves you listed, if Drury and Gomez dont play better, it will still be the rangers overpaying for talent that did not reach my previously defined expectations. I think you will find that most Rangers fans felt that the two did not do as well as they would have hoped. Finally, and most importantly, for your own sake, dont start off a post with a blatant insult as it makes people less likely to read or agree with what you say as well as makes yourself look foolish and inflammatory.
May 18, 2008 6:47 PM ET | Delete
Edit: I wrote before in the comment "to a lesser extent than gomez". That should read, "to a lesser extent than drury"
May 18, 2008 7:28 PM ET | Delete
Fair enough.In reference to your Drury point, the past 2 years he had around 70 points but on a stacked Buffalo Sabres team, so in my opinion it is a little unfair to compare numbers just to his past 2 years. Also, I think a major part of the Rangers lack of offense during the season was the inconsistent, or more accurately non-existent play of Jaromir Jagr. Jagr proved in the playoffs that he can still be one of the best players in the game, but was not during the season more for a lack of effort than a lack of talent. 2 years ago he underachieved for most of the season, but stepped it up in the playoffs again. With that being said, I think it's up to management this offseason to keep Jagr's lack of regular season production in mind when putting together a roster for next season. If Sather opts to go out and sign/trade for a player similar to Gomez and Drury, that is someone who is not a top scorer but is sure to be in the top 5 on his team, I think that would be a mistake. Drury and Gomez met my expectations for the majority of this season, and I think they were far from the problems that led to this team's early exit.
May 18, 2008 9:13 PM ET | Delete
As an Islander fan, I do enjoy reading and commenting on Rangers blogs. I think you did a phenomenal job here with your analzying. When I sat down and talked about the acquisitions of Gomez and Drury last July 1st, I was a little skeptical as to why both of them were signed. Granted, I would have loved either on my Islanders, I think that the best route the Rangers could have taken last year was to sign Gomez, who was truly a great player for them this year regardless of a terribly slow start, and re-sign Nylander, who would have come at 3.5 million cheaper than Drury. Now granted, we can all agree Nylander is aging and would have been a little riskier than Drury, I still would back up my idea by saying if you chose to pass on Nylander, than the excess money could have been used to land that big number 1 defenseman that is so desperately needed on the Rangers. You need a stay at home defenseman who is going to be logging 25 plus minutes a night, great on the penalty kill, clearing the crease, and willing to hit and go hard into the corners. I truly believe the Rangers have a phenomenal core of players, and with players like Dubinsky and Dawes contributing full time and soon the additions of Sanguinetti (two years from now) and Bourret (who is not spoken of enough), the Rangers will fill out. This is why I also feel the Rangers should go hard after Bouwmeester, as he is just what the Rangers need in one package. The only difficult part with Bouwmeester will be the pricetag, as without Drury that 7 million could be used in different ways. I will never take away from Drury being a great player, but 7 million could have been used differently. Just an opinion, but a great blog and analysis nonetheless.
May 18, 2008 9:39 PM ET | Delete
to be honest, you could have written this blog at the very beginning of the year. Gomez, is a great obvious first line centre. He has speed, play making ability, and is hitting his prime. i can TOTALLY understand signing him last year. but drury?!?! for over 7 million, for more than ONE year??? retarded.I still don't understand why the rangers didn't just keep nylander, not cus he's a great player, blah blah blah, but because a happy jagr is a Great jagr.drury is, and will continue to be a complete contract disappointment, year in and year out. Especially if you do a point to salary ratio. at this point, he is a second line centre who will be transitioning to a 3rd/4th line center as he's past his prime.the ranger's window to go all the way was this year. they still have some great peices to build around, gomez, some young 3/4 liners, and a top notch goalie. not sure what happens with jagr, shannahan, avery, and elements of their d, but they'll still be good enough to be a playoff team next year.
May 18, 2008 10:42 PM ET | Delete
Flames, I think you're slightly off on your Drury analysis. He was paid by the market last summer, in that there were only 3 top centers available. And that term 'top' is certainly relative. But don't believe that just because he was centering a third line this season, he is past his prime. He was there because Jagr couldn't play with any center but Dubinsky. Anyway good blog Rags, I like how you worked your thought process out to discover that we not a win-now team and that the glaring hole of a true #1 defenseman wasn't addressed in last year's offseason. Let's hope this summer is different.
May 19, 2008 10:34 AM ET | Delete
Wow what everyone is missing id that Nylander thought he was Gretzky in his prime. The Center was offered a fair deal at 3.5 then 4 and still wanted more. That a 4 year deal at 4 mill for a guy who is aging,with his wing not certain to come back after this season. Say the the Rangers signed Nylander and Jagr had a falling out with the club or a career ending injury. Then the Rangers are on the hook for another 3 years for a guy who has had trouble finding chemistry with everyone. Instead we signed a guy with 2 rings (Gomez) and a guy who this season did what he does best ,score big goals in the last few mins of the game. 2-1 win late in the Season in NJ. I'm talking about Drury who was dropped to the third line,killed penalties,and played the PP. He's a proven winner and exactly what the Rangers needed. If Hossa likes skating with Sid,wait till he gets a taste of playing with Gomez. Rags the article was a little choppy,but i'm glad another Rangers fan finally served up another blog.
May 19, 2008 10:56 AM ET | Delete
Nylander wanted too much money and was injured for half a season. We dodged a bullet.
May 19, 2008 11:28 AM ET | Delete
Yep Pwo,plus this dude shaded out on the Oilers. Signed a deal then his old lady cut off his junk and karma bit him in the ass in DC
May 19, 2008 12:24 PM ET | Delete
Solid analysis R2R. Lots of thought and introspection on your part. Of course, it just backs up what we all know, namely that there has always been and always will be much speculation and second-guessing when it comes to roster moves. Hind sight and all of that. Meanwhile, nice job.
May 19, 2008 5:18 PM ET | Delete
Here is the way I see it. If a 60 point player is going to command $7 million a year, because he is a winner who performs well in the clutch, he better damn will perform in the clutch! Chris Drury simply didn't do that this year, and having $7 million per wrapped up in a player who doesn't have the capability to put up 80 points on a consistent basis is a significant cause for concern. Chris Drury is a very good all around player, that is a dependable penalty killer and face-off man. Those skills, however, do not command $7 million salaries. If they did, Matt Cullen, who actually outperformed Chris Drury this year, would have been the biggest bargain in the league at $2.5 million a yearIn my view, I think people drastically underestimated Nylander's abilities, as well as his production here. Yes, he had Jagr, but he produced, and given the clunker free agents that the Rangers have signed in the past, I still think that means something. Nylander at $4 million per versus Drury at $7 million per, I did at the time, and still would prefer Nylander under those terms (even if the Rangers had to given him the extra 4th year). It would have been nice to have an extra $3 million in the kitty to address the Rangers needs on D, but what's done is done.
May 19, 2008 7:22 PM ET | Delete
If the blue shirts dont want Drury we would gladly take him back.
May 19, 2008 7:56 PM ET | Delete
drury is amazing......he is priceless in whatever he does (killing penalties,scoring clutch goals,blocking shots, etc)
May 19, 2008 8:15 PM ET | Delete
I really think there is a common misconception that Drury is a CLUTCH player, and not that he scores CLUTCH GOALS. Seriously, think about it. Saying someone is a clutch player in hockey is pretty silly, because it implies they pick up their level of play in the biggest moments. In hockey, most of these guys play 110% every game, especially the important ones. Drury does score clutch goals, because of the way he plays. When you are always around the net and have your stick in the right position, you are going to score goals whenever, especially late in the game when there are plenty of scrambles. Drury is not an Ovechkin or Crosby, he can't take over a game when its close with his skill. What he can do though is put himself in the best spot for a goal (in front of his net), and be ready to put in a rebound for a big time goal (Game 5 against NYR).
May 19, 2008 8:18 PM ET | Delete
I agree. Drury contributes so much to this team and it seems to go unnoticed. He is our best penalty killer, best face off guy, a leader, he hustles and plays all around smart hockey. Some people are two obsessed with the numbers.
May 19, 2008 9:25 PM ET | Delete
Chris Drury is a very good hockey player. I'm not disputing that. The issue I have is this -- when you pay a guy $7 million per, it is not enough that he wins faceoffs, hustles, and plays pretty good defensive hockey. That player needs to put up solid offensive numbers, because the payment of that type of salary has a ripple effect that prevents a team from paying to find scoring elsewhere. Maybe I am obsessed with numbers, but a team has to score to win hockey games, and when your top salaried forwards are putting up mediocre offensive numbers, the team will have a hard time winning, especially when those forwards' salaries prevent the team from bolstering the blueline under a salary cap system. This summer, the Rangers are going to battle with Sean Avery as whether to pay him around $3.5 million a year. Signing guys like Avery is made more difficult by the fact that the Rangers overpaid for Drury. If Drury is worth $7 million per, Avery is certaintly worth $3.5 million, if not significantly more.
May 20, 2008 10:12 AM ET | Delete
Lets not forget that Dru played with broken ribs/shoulder or what ever for a period and a half,then came back the next game!
May 20, 2008 12:34 PM ET | Delete
Pete, if you paid Drury solely on the numbers, I agree, he's worth less (probably around 4 or 5 million). But his faceoff percentage in the playoffs was great, and he's an excellent penalty killer. Those are key attributes and make him worth what we pay him.
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