Per Larry Brooks, following up on a story by Arthur Staple, Chris Drury’s knee injury appears to be much more severe than anyone has let on. After knee surgery late last season, Drury returned to the Rangers for the last game of the season, scoring one of the most important goals of his Ranger career, and for the playoffs. Although Drury scored that goal against the Devils in the first period to tie the game, it was clear that he was either a step behind, or that his knee injury was still bothering him.
Recently, there had been discussions and confirmations that the Rangers would indeed buyout Drury’s contract when the buyout period opens on Monday (48 hours after the end of the Stanley Cup Finals, not including weekends). Staple refuted that report a few days later, citing Drury’s knee injury as a potential cause for disruption of the buyout. Per the CBA, a team cannot buyout am injured player. It prevents teams from cutting ties with players because of significant injuries, and really protects the players.
With Drury’s knee injury now being referred to as “degenerative”, this may fall under that clause in the CBA. This, of course, is bad news for the Rangers and their offseason plans. Freeing up that $3.3 million was crucial in their pursuit of Brad Richards and their desire to get all of their key RFAs under contract. Instead of dealing with a $3.7 million cap hit over the summer, it is now a full $7.05 million cap hit. Naturally, that goes a long way in staying under the summer cap.
While the panic for the offseason plans is well deserved, any panic for the regular season should be brushed aside. Assuming Drury’s knee injury is so severe that he cannot play, he will be placed on LTIR immediately. While LTIR does not save the Rangers cap space in the general sense, it allows them to spend Drury’s cap hit in cap overages.
The soon to be 35 year old center and captain of the Rangers also has one other option. This is an option that I have been predicting since we heard that Drury’s knee injury might be career threatening. That prediction is that Drury will do what Markus Naslund did, and retire. This, of course, is pure speculation on my part. But considering the severity of the injury, is it really that preposterous now?