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Archive for Chris Drury


Drury To Have Surgery; Out Six Weeks

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The Rangers just can’t seem to get a break with the injuries. As per Andrew Gross, captain Chris Drury will have surgery on his injured left knee, and will be out for at least six weeks. Drury has struggled all year, and has been playing with this nagging injury for a while. He had fluid drained last week, and will have this surgery to see if there is any more damage to his knee.

Also, because of the news, I posted over Chris’ post on supporting Marian Gaborik. Don’t forget to read it below.

Categories : Injuries
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Drury Out, Christensen In; New Lines Again; Lundqvist Getting Extra Practice Work

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The New York Rangers, per their official twitter account, announced today that Chris Drury won’t be making the road trip with the team, and that Erik Christensen will be returning to the lineup tomorrow.  The reason for Drury’s absence is an apparent sore knee issue that has been going on for the past few weeks and got worse last night.

Also per the teams official twitter account there are a few quotes from coach John Tortorella about the Drury situation…

Torts on Drury: “He has had cranky knee and has progressively gotten worse…gone a few weeks & flared up last night”

Torts: “He’s played this game hard for a long time and I think it’s a little bit of wear and tear…and it’s just acting up on him now”

The level of skepticism surrounding the timing of the Drury news is high.  I do not buy the injury as the real cause, but I look at it as an attempt to save face for the captain instead of making him a healthy scratch.  I have no doubt that Drury has creaky knees at this point in his career, but the timing is too suspect for that to be the legitimate cause of the move.

Christensen’s return will mark his first game since he suffered a second degree MCL sprain December 29th in a contest against the Devils. The main issue with Christensen over the past few days, as Dave pointed out recently, was his conditioning, not the knee.

As a result of the changes in personnel and the ineffectiveness of certain combinations last night, the Rangers once again have new lines.


These lines do not strike me as the right combination either, but they probably will not last more than a period unless they work anyway, so does not matter all that much.

In other practice news Lundqvist stayed after practice to work on some things with MZA and Boyle.

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The Cost Of Buying Out Drury

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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
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Despite it being one player with marginal impact going down, the injury to Erik Christensen will give significant chance for players in vastly different situations for the next 4-6 weeks. The first and most obvious beneficiary is Dale Weise. Weise has proven over the last season and a half in the AHL that he has NHL talent both physically and skill wise. Scorer of 28 goals last year – on a losing Hartford side – the big winger came back after injury to return to scoring form for Connecticut this year. Having made an impressive NHL debut this year Weise will get regular NHL time for the next month or so and he deserves it. Weise brings the aforementioned size and aggression and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves or crash the net, qualities that will help ease any transition phase he may face in NY. However it is a big stage in Weise’s career. Once considered a marginal prospect Weise may cement his place in the line up or prove that he is merely an NHL fill-in. Indeed, Weise may be at a cross road given the forward depth and talent that is on its way over the next 12 months. However should he take his opportunity, get involved offensively and demand he be given ice time Weise may become a cheap and permanent fixture in the bottom six. It’s up to him Weise to make himself irreplaceable.

The second player with the increased opportunity is Mats Zuccarello. The little Norwegian has had a relatively solid start to life in the NHL but his ice time was likely to be carefully managed while he acclimatised to the big league but with a skilled forward now out of the line up Zuccarello becomes even more critical. Likely the only forward that offers the same shootout skill that Christensen could and given his much publicised talent the Norwegian winger will likely get thrust into a prominent role immediately. It will be interesting to see how the winger responds and whether he can do so consistently at this stage of his career already. With Callahan and Christensen out and Prospal yet to return Zuccarello, like Weise, has an opportunity to cement a spot in the line up but in this case a more prominent one. Tortorella has recently admitted the need to infuse the roster with more natural talent and he noted the little winger as the source of the desired skill. With plenty of minutes on offer if the winger can be an offensive contributor then he likely has a spot to keep. Unlike Weise however Zuccarello can play with no risk on his part. He knows there’s significant investment on the Rangers part in him and he also knows the Rangers need his talent level. His worst case scenario is more time in Connecticut before a full time call up. Zuccarello doesn’t face any cross roads like Weise may be.

The last player with significant opportunity is Chris Drury. Unlike the two prospects the captain isn’t fighting for his job but is fighting for increased significance. Having looked good at both ends since his return from injury goals have still eluded the veteran center while with Christensen’s absence it’s means a top 6 center spot is vacant. With Drury’s (much needed) skill in the face off circle and a spot at center ice in the top six likely open it could be Drury’s to take. This may also be Drury’s last chance to claim a regular scoring role in the NHL. With his offensive skills in decline and already considered a special teams and defensive leader, Drury will try to use any additional ice time to show he can still be a scorer like his days in Buffalo/ While the Rangers captain faces a different challenge to the two prospects Drury also faces a huge 4-6 week period in his illustrious career.

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Drury On Fourth Line; White Or Christensen To Be Scratched

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As per Arthur Staple, Chris Drury was practicing on the fourth line today between Sean Avery and Erik Christensen/Todd White. Should Drury return, one of Christensen/White will be the healthy scratch to make room. It doesn’t appear that the Rangers will demote White until Derek Boogaard returns from injury, so expect the Rangers to carry 14 forwards for the time being. Believe it or not, the Rangers actually have the cap space to carry Drury without dumping White.

As for the rest of the lines, they remained in tact:

Ruslan Fedotenko-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Alex Frolov-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust
Sean Avery-Chris Drury-Erik Christensen/Todd White

Categories : Lineup Changes
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Drury Back, Decisions Ahead

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Although he still has plenty (potentially) to give to the Rangers, with the news of Chris Drury’s pending return – a welcome return at that – Erik Christensen is starring down the barrel of a healthy scratch. Luckily for him, Derek Boogaard doesn’t like to stay healthy. It was telling that during the Rangers demolition of the Caps Christensen only received roughly 11 minutes of ice time even though the game was already won entering the 3rd period. When a game is won early on it’s often a chance for a coach to rest his core players, try and get struggling players going with extended playing time and we saw that to an extent as Frolov got good PP minutes and even Todd White got power play time. Unfortunately for EC, he still didn’t get a ton of minutes during this game.

Drury’s return is a welcome for everyone but Christensen and White, although even more players will be concerned when Vinnie Prospal gets back later this month. Drury is an excellent face off guy, a lead by example type and will naturally help the penalty kill and while his offensive skills are clearly diminished from his Buffalo days he can still be counted on to add skill to the bottom 6 or chip in on a scoring line to some degree. Drury is this team’s undoubted leader – as indicated by Torts – and he’ll play regardless. How much he plays depends on the next game or two as while he looks to get game fitness a lot will depend on the chemistry and success of other lines. The next few games are indeed very important to Drury’s season. We should know quickly where Tortorella wants to use him and it will be key for Drury to show that he can be more than a checking forward who leads the penalty kill. How quickly he gets back up to speed may define Drury’s season.

The next two games are critical for Erik Christensen and arguably his future as a Ranger and perhaps even as an NHL’er. It’s very likely that Todd White will be the first casualty but once Boogaard (and then Prospal) are available other bodies will need to be sacrificed. Looking around the roster the obvious next candidate is EC. Many players such as Brandon Prust and Brian Boyle have taken advantage of the early season absences of key forwards and have made themselves invaluable to the Blueshirt cause. In fact, Brandon Prust may have been the Rangers best forward through November and early December such has been his impact all over the ice. All of this brings us back to EC and his key run of upcoming games. The game against the Pens and the game against the Coyotes may be his last chances to convince as the Rangers will likely go with the most physical side at their disposal for the Flyers game thereafter. Should EC be scratched he need look no further than Matt Gilroy to see how hard it is to get back into the team on a regular basis, even though Gilroy’s play isn’t deserving of a seat in the press box.

With all this being considered EC’s position needs to be assessed. He has obvious ability and flashes it occasionally, to the point where he may be tempting as trade bait, especially when you consider his contract is relatively small. With his ability to play wing and center as well as his talent in the skills competition EC may in fact be playing the next few games as an audition such is his tenuous position on the roster. As Torts indicated, the kids are safe (as they should be) so EC clearly is in a numbers game that looks like one he cannot win. All that makes the next two games huge for Christensen and not just Chris Drury.

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For all intents and purposes, Rangers captain Chris Drury has missed the entire season to date with a broken finger. The news came last week that Drury’s return is going to be delayed until at least next week because he is still having trouble gripping a stick. Drury has spent the entire season on long term injured reserve, and thus the Rangers have had some cushion in the salary cap to keep 13 (and sometimes 14) forwards and 7 defensemen with the club. That changes when Drury returns, as he will need to be activated from LTIR, and that cushion disappears.

When that cushion disappears, it is all but a certainty that Todd White will be sent to the Connecticut Whale. White has been waived twice thus far this year, and will likely be waived again in the coming days, as his 30 day window has expired since the last time he was waived. White’s cap hit of $2.375 million clears enough room for the Rangers to get back under the cap when Drury’s $7.05 million cap hit is re-activated. It shouldn’t be a surprise that White will be sent to Hartford, considering the dual waiving and his inability to not only crack the lineup, but remain in the lineup for a consistent period of time.

The demotion of White is the easy decision for the Rangers. The tough decision is deciding who will replace White in the press box once Drury returns. There are a few candidates for the healthy scratch, and there are legitimate reasons for scratching each of them:

  • Derek Boogaard: The Rangers enforcer isn’t exactly the best skater in the world, and he doesn’t bring much to the table other than the intimidation factor. Considering the upcoming schedule against some very skilled teams, it is likely that Boogaard will be scratched for a handful of those games.
  • Alex Frolov: Frolov is doing his best Chris Higgins impression this year. It’s not that he’s been bad, he just can’t seem to score. He has been effective at bringing the puck into the offensive zone, but he always winds up behind the net trying a wrap around. Maybe a trip to the press box for a game or two will remind him to shoot the puck before he gets behind the net.
  • Erik Christensen: Naturally, I’m going to mention Christensen here. Christensen may have 11 points, but 5 of them have come in two games against terrible teams (Edmonton, Islanders). He has just 6 points in the other 26 games he has played this year, and this is with significant time on the top line with Marian Gaborik. Christensen is very skilled, but skilled doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t scoring. The difference between him and Frolov is that Frolov at least plays decent defense.
  • Ruslan Fedotenko: Fedotenko is in the middle of an eight game scoreless drought after netting five points in his previous three games. Fedotenko is another one of those players who does other things to make up for his lack of production, but he does have 11 points this year while playing predominantly on the third line. A game or two as a scratch might wake him up a little bit.
  • Derek Stepan: This one is a long shot, but Stepan could wind up playing in Connecticut as well if Rangers brass decides to go with the old adage of salary over performance. Stepan is on this list because the Rangers history with playing salary over those deserving isn’t pretty. This one is very unlikely, but it’s worth mentioning.

So that I’m not leaving you guys to guess on your own, I think Drury will be re-inserted as a permanent figure in the lineup, and Boogaard and Christensen will be rotating as the healthy scratch. Christensen provides some extra offensive punch against the skilled teams, while Boogaard will definitely be a physical force against teams like the Flyers.

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Drury’s Return Delayed

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It looks like Chris Drury is going to be out longer than expected. Larry Brooks is reporting that Drury’s broken left index finger is still bothering him, and that he is unable to grip a stick:

“It was not good,” a disappointed Drury said on his way out of the Garden after the Rangers fell 3-1 to the Penguins.

Drury, who was initially scheduled to be out 4-to-6 weeks after re-injuring his finger during the Rangers October 15 home opener against Toronto, will be delayed by at least two weeks:

Still, The Post has learned the captain will be permitted to skate with a stick within the next couple of days before being slowly integrated into practice drills and then contact.

It was estimated that the captain would miss 6-to-8 weeks when he went down. Friday will mark seven weeks to the day.

Despite what fans may think of Drury’s contract and declining offensive production, he is the captain of this team and an integral part of its success. He is probably the best penalty killer on the team, and was one of the best faceoff guys on the team last year. Without him this season, the Rangers penalty killing sits at 82.8% (down from 84.3% last season) and their faceoff success rate sits at 44.7% (down from 49.2% last season).

At first glance, the penalty killing numbers don’t look that bad, but that 2% difference could be one goal at a critical moment that costs the Rangers two points. Even if it’s just a 2% difference, it’s better to have him in the lineup to get back that 2% than have him sitting and having Todd White taking his spot in the lineup. As for faceoffs, that is self explanatory. That extra 5% means a lot in terms of puck possession, killing penalties, and powerplay success.

The Rangers have been dealing with injuries all year, and have played very well despite missing some key pieces for a good portion of the season. Chris Drury is another one of those important pieces that the Rangers need back soon. Even if his offensive production is declining, he will be better than his replacement in the lineup: Todd White. Drury balances out the defensive responsibilities of the bottom six, will help the penalty kill, and will help the faceoff percentage. This team needs Chris Drury, and needs him as soon as possible.

Categories : Injuries
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The banged up Rangers got some good news yesterday, despite the loss to the Bruins. Chris Drury, who has been out for pretty much the entire season with a broken finger, began skating again, and his timetable for a return is 2-3 weeks. The inevitable return of Drury poses an interesting question for the Rangers: Who gets scratched? The rotation of Todd White/Derek Boogaard on the fourth line is actually working out, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see White stay. To be perfectly honest, I believe that once Drury returns, Derek Stepan will be sent to Hartford. It is no slight against the kid, but there is no point keeping him with the Rangers if he is going to be playing fourth line minutes. I believe he is still with the club only because the Rangers are so decimated by injuries.

As for Michal Rozsival, who has been out for the past week with a knee injury, his return is slated for next week. Steve Eminger has played very, very well in Rozsival’s absence, bringing a physical game to those playing 20 minutes each contest. If he continues this when Rozsival returns, while presumably being paired with Michael Sauer, then the Rangers defense will be much improved. Unfortunately it looks like Matt Gilroy, who seems to have lost his way in NY (and might benefit from a trade), will be the odd man out when Rozsival returns.

Categories : Injuries
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Chris Drury, who has missed the entire preseason and the first two games of the regular season with a broken pinky, will likely make his return on Friday when the Rangers have their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs. His return comes just in time, as it looks like Erik Christensen will be missing time due to a lower body (hamstring or groin) injury sustained in yesterday’s 6-4 loss to the Islanders. Christensen was limited to 32 seconds in the third period due to the injury. The severity of the injury has yet to be determined, but there is a chance Christensen will miss significant time.

If Christensen (cap hit – $800,000) is placed in injured reserve, the Rangers would not need to make any roster moves to accommodate the return of Drury to the lineup. If the injury is less serious, and IR time is not required, then one of Todd White (cap hit – $2.375 million) or Tim Kennedy (cap hit – $550,000) will need to be assigned to Hartford. Both have cleared waivers, and will need to be assigned within the next eight games (the rule is 10 games or 30 days, whichever comes first) before needing to clear waivers again. It’s going to be a tough decision for the Rangers to make, as keeping each one around has its pluses and minuses. It still is not known how the line combos will be affected once Drury returns. Considering the top line of Christensen centering Alex Frolov and Marian Gaborik has produced one of the Rangers ten goals, change might be good for the top line. More news will come, but for now, expect Drury to play and Christensen to sit on Friday night.

Categories : Injuries
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