The Cost Of Buying Out Drury

January 21, 2011, by

Rangers captain Chris Drury has not produced enough to be deemed worthy of his $7.05 million cap hit the past two seasons. Signed by the Rangers in 2007, Drury put up numbers consistent with his career average in his first two years with the Rangers, with 58 points and 56 points. He played significant minutes at all points during the game, and couldn’t really be called a “bust” those two seasons*. It wasn’t until last season when the Rangers high priced center started to see his game disappear. His production was nearly cut in half, and his role diminished to that of a fourth line player. That same trend has continued this year, as Drury has no goals and just four points in 16 games this season.

*-Note that his numbers were consistent with what he had produced in his previous eight seasons. He’s not a “bust” if he produces at that clip.

Despite his lack of production, Drury still serves a purpose. He is a great captain, he kills penalties, he wins face-offs, and he blocks a ton of shots. That said, $7.05 million is a lot to pay for a player who plays ten minutes per game. Drury can’t be demoted due to his no-movement clause, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue. It would be a public relations nightmare to demote the captain of an NHL club. Trade is also impossible with that cap hit, even if his actual salary does drop to $5 million next season.

The only way the Rangers would be able to rid themselves of Drury is by buying him out. Buying out Drury during the summer of 2011 would result in a $3.7 million cap hit for the 2011-2012 season (saving the Rangers $3.35 million in cap space), and a $1.67 million cap hit for the 2012-2013 season, a season where Drury’s initial contract would have expired. The $3.35 million in cap space saved goes a long way, especially considering Wade Redden and his $6.5 million cap hit will be on the summer cap. During a summer when the Rangers will look to sign Brad Richards, every dollar in cap space is important.

Numbers aside, buying out Drury will cost the Rangers their best face-off guy, one of their best penalty killers, and their captain. It’s tough to replace that kind of role on the ice and in the locker room, and there is no guarantee that the Rangers will be successful in luring a top center to MSG next season. In the end, it’s a question about whether having Drury for one year at $7 million is better than having him for two years at $3.7 million and $1.67 million. It’s a tough call, and it’s hard to say if there’s a right answer.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Jordan says:

    I wouldn’t vote against it. As a captain, one of the core can step up, be it Callahan, Dubinsky or Staal. As a 4th liner and PKer he doesn’t get that many opportunities for faceoffs that he can’t be replaced. Any other production he provides can be easily replaced, especially for an additional $3+ million. I don’t really see that much of a downside at this point. He currently looks like he has no game left.

    • Dave says:

      Drury takes most of the important face-offs on this team right now. Since he is the only guy at a 50% success rate, it’s tough to replace that.

      • Jordan says:

        Well SSS but Newbury is killing FOs right now. And while I agree with you that on this team, that’s tough to replace, I find myself valuing the $3+ mil cap room more than winning 5% more FOs than Boyle.

  2. PaulieF says:

    I think we are stuck with him this season and next.
    BTW Drury gets paid 5 million dollars next season.

    So isnt the buyout 2/3 of his pay spread out over 2 seasons?

    • Brian says:

      Not completely sure how the buyout cap hit works but yes, if the buyout cap hit was ~$3.3 split over two years it would be a cap hit of $1.65 for next season and the one after which is a no brainer, but since he wasn’t paid the same amount in actual salary over the course of the contract it alters the cap hit somewhat which make sit less appealing to buy him out.

    • Dave says:

      The numbers come from CapGeek, it’s $3.35m next year and $1.67 the year after.

      • Brian says:

        Not saying that your numbers are wrong my point was that the rule of 2/3’s spread out over 2x the remainder of the contract applies to the actual money the team pays the player and not the buyout cap hit per se. At least I thought this was the case.

        • Dave says:

          Yup, it’s the salary, not the hit. But it’s calculated by cap hit-buyout amount

  3. The Hockey Suit says:

    I think he should pull a Naslund and just hang em up…but that’s wishful thinking

  4. Messy says:

    I’d be all for buying out both Drury (and Wade Redden’s ghost), but I’d rather see the him to retire. Drury has had a good career both in the NHL and internationally for Team U.S.A. and he never shows a lack of effort, but he’s probably the worst captain in the league not named Dion Phaneuf. If his cap hit weren’t 7.5 million, I’d be more willing to forgive him, but he’s shown the fans nothing this year that suggests he will ever return to the player he once was. Boogaard has more goals (1) than Drury! The Rangers’ youth movement would benefit substantially – if only symbolically – from naming Callahan captain and moving past last decade’s disastrous free agency-based team building experiment.

  5. Brian says:

    The summer cap will be $68 million (%10 right?) if the cap goes up by 3 mil which should be just short (<$1m) of allowing us to put Redden on the summer cap while spending close to the actual 2011-12 season cap of $62m. So we'll be left with roughly $17m to sign all of our RFA's (Dubinsky, Callahan, Boyle, Anisimov, Sauer, Gilroy – yes Gilroy and his cap hit will most likely go down) and UFA's to fill in remaining spots. It's highly doubtful that will be enough to sign all those guys and Richards as well.

    If Brad Richards is in fact available as a UFA and the only obstacle is buying out Drury then we would be crazy not to do so. But, if Richards is not available and we can sign all our RFA's and still plug a hole with a Fedotenko or an Eminger while keeping him, then I would be in favor of keeping Drury until his contract runs out.

  6. Tim says:

    I try not to be a jerk about our high priced talent (I loved Rozsival til the day he was traded) but if salaries weren’t an issue, is there any Ranger fan in the world that wouldn’t trade chris drury for blair betts straight up? I love Blair Betts, but what does that say about the 7 million we’re on the hook for? A lot of Drury’s apocalyptic drop off in numbers has to due with little to no powerplay time under Torts, but your captain putting up zero points in 12 games with Ryan Callahan out and half the rest of the team hurting….this was Drury’s time to step up, and other than a few chances he’s put high, wide, or into the blocker, he’s been invisible. Baaaaad sign. I hate to say it about our captain, but I’d probably take the buy-out…

    • Jordan says:

      I like the comparison. I’d probably take Betts.

      Another person I found who I think is comparable is Jerred Smithson. He’s 31, he doesn’t score much and he’s awesome on faceoffs. His cap hit is $800k I believe. If his cap hit was $7 mil, I don’t think Nashville would think twice about buying him out, captain or not.

    • Steve Nagy says:

      Tim, I agree with you on all accounts. (Rozsival, Betts.)Drury is done and the buyout is the only solution.As an added point,I also like Gaborik and would not look to trade him. He is a superstar and will shine for years to come.

  7. KC says:

    How is he a great captain??
    I don’t see him taking tons of big faceoffs. In fact, the other night, he moved Drury to wing so Newbury could take faceoffs.
    Last night he was replaced on Boyle’s line by Kolarik. He’s not showing much and he’s lost a step from where he was the past couple years, which wasn’t very good.

    • Dave says:

      I have a feeling Drury being replaced was more because Kolarik played a good game, and was nothing against Drury really.

      He is a good captain for this team, despite what many think. He leads by example, and the kids look up to him. Lack of production =/= bad captain.

  8. KC says:

    Great is a ridiculous word to use when referring to him. Kolarik moved up because he was noticable, in limited time. Drury is rarely noticable. You’d think he’d try to step up and be seen, someway, somehow, but it just doesn’t happen. Newbury has outplayed Drury since he’s been here, just by hardwork, Chris COULD try doing the same, but he’s invisible.

    • Dave says:

      I don’t think it’s a lack of effort. I really think his game just disappeared, it happens when you reach your mid-30s, as Drury has. I think the reason why the kids look up to him is because he does put in the effort.

      Drury just simply isn’t fast enough anymore, so it’s a lack of skill more so than a lack of effort. I think that’s where the invisible bit comes from.

      Drury was great, but the past two years have seen a regression that is showing he is in the twilight of his career.

      • Brian says:

        I totally agree with this and that’s why I feel we should only buy him out if it leads to signing Brad Richards.

        • Steve Nagy says:

          Who said Richards is going to be available? If Dallas gets a new owner, they will make every effort to re sign him. Also how do we know that he’s. even interested to sign with the Rangers. Just because he played for Torts before does not mean that he likes him. We all know what a fire ball Torts is. I do not like his stile of coaching though you can not argue with suxcess.

  9. Section 121 says:

    First 7 games back he was playing about 15 min. a game and he scored 4 pts, 11 SOG, +3.

    Since then, 11 games, about 10 min. a game, 0 pts, 8 SOG, +1.

    This looks like there’s a direct correlation between playing time (role on team) and production.

  10. Rich A says:

    Prust was the true leader of the team last night. He had a nice breakaway, he fought at the right time (and won), then he scored the only goal. Enough said.

  11. mhurley says:

    Ranger Captain = Two Words-Ryan Callahan