If/When Drury Returns, Where Will He Fit?

March 24, 2011, by

In case you missed it, the Rangers have been without Captain Chris Drury for quite some time this year. He missed a good portion of the early season with a broken finger, and has missed the past several weeks with a knee injury. Without him, the Rangers have developed four solid and well balanced lines with a useful 13th forward, and do not seem to be missing their captain on the ice. However, knee injuries don’t last forever (generally speaking), and at some point, Drury will be back on the ice. If that is this year, then it becomes a question of who, if anyone, sits.

There’s no doubt that Drury’s game has slipped this season, but if it’s because of the knee, we won’t know until he returns. He has clearly lost a step, and was getting beat on a regular basis. But, Drury has been a consummate professional on and off the ice, and has been a great role model for the kids who have taken over the team in his absence. His presence is not missed on the ice, but is missed in the locker room, which may be enough to force coach John Tortorella’s hand in playing the aging center upon his return.

Should Tortorella succumb to the pressure to play Drury, who will sit? Right now, the Rangers seem to have a rotation for the 13th forward with Sean Avery, Wojtek Wolski, and Erik Christensen. Whoever plays the worst sits for a game or two. It’s fairly simple, and the Rangers have been on a five game winning streak since that was employed. Throw Drury into the mix, and then the Rangers have a $7 million Captain who should be in that rotation. Ice time will be reduced significantly for one or even two of those three already in the healthy scratch mix. The question remains though, does Drury deserve to be inserted back in the lineup on a regular basis?

Out since February 4 following knee surgery, the initial timetable for Drury’s return was six weeks. Six weeks has become almost eight weeks, and there is still no indication of when he will return. When he does return, the biggest question won’t be about his ability to play, it will be about where he fits into the lineup. The Rangers clearly don’t miss him on the ice, and while his leadership is important, is his $7 million price tag worth the leadership and declining skills?

Categories : Injuries


  1. Brian says:

    Assuming Drury is healthy I would prefer having him in the lineup over Avery/EC/MZA/Wolski. I just think that he understands playoff hockey as much as any other player on this team, is disciplined and can be valuable in a variety of situations: PK, D-zone face-offs, 4th line duties, and leadership. Any offense he can provide will be a plus.

    I would like to see what Stepan would do between Dubi and Cally and this will allow Dubi to take key face-offs. AA has looked very good at times with Gaborik and Prospal will last longer if he is allowed to play wing and not center. Boyles line remains the same and the hot hands can rotate in on Drury’s 4th line.

    Maybe something like this would work:

    I have nothing against the Dubi-AA-Cally line but Wolski and MZA aren’t providing much and Stepan shouldn’t suffer because of it. Basically the best two-way players should get the most ice time.

    • ds says:

      Why break up the Rangers best line of Dubs-Artem-Callahan. It would be the stupidest thing EVER! Just to “see what stepan can do?” we are on a winning streak, that line is scoring multiple goals every night, and you want to break it up? Thank God you are not the coach.
      Stepan is a great young player but he needs to learn to play with other players and make them better.

      • Brian says:

        When you mention “multiple goals every night” do you mean One? Because that is what they scored last game vs one of the worst teams in the league.

        • kgb16 says:

          Theyw were defensively responsible resulting in a team shut outagainst Florida, and while they didn’t put up big numbers, did they need to? They did pretty well against some good teams, and multiple goals were scored.

  2. Section 121 says:

    funny how no one thinks of the “NCAA Wall” when it comes to Stepan

    Perhaps it’s not his line mates that are slowing him down – just an extended season for him?

    Brian, I think you’re right about Drury – he’d be a better choice in the playoffs compared to some of our other options

  3. SilkcityCD says:

    Drury is done… like toast. While we all talk about the “intangibles” and tangiles he may bring to the table (and that’s a big “may”) his hard play over a very nice career has finally taken it’s toll. He is a defensive liability on the ice, rarely contributing offensively (except for a few single “big goals” as a Ranger) and cannot claim leadership anymore due to his extended absences from injuries. As Ranger fans, we have have to accept that this was just as bad a deal as the Gomez deal, offer Drury a demotion to Hartford and hope his pride encourages him to retire gracefully. The guy played his heart out, made some money but HIS TIME IS DONE… Give the C to someone who can lead… like Cally.