Of all the report cards this site will hand out this summer, I’d expect Chris Drury’s performance to be the most debated. Because whether you think Drury did a good or bad job will likely come down to how much weight you give the Buchnevich trade. But there was redemption for Chris Drury last season, especially at the deadline.
From reading the comments on this site and interacting with fans on Twitter, there is no grey area with Drury. People either think he did a fantastic job in his rookie year as GM, or they think he’s a Jimmy Dolan stooge and will sabotage the franchise. There isn’t much in between. Of course, Twitter is an echo chamber of polarizing people and ideas, so maybe the bulk of the Rangers fan base that doesn’t sound off on the internet is more neutral? Hard to know.
For me, after working for sports organizations for many years, I can confidently say, there is no black and white with any decisions. There is only grey. There are just so many variables and nuance when it comes to building a roster, staff, and an organization at large.
If you look back at the 2021-22 offseason and in-season moves, there was a good amount to dissect. Let’s recap the major decisions made, and why there was redemption for Chris Drury .
Hiring Gerard Gallant: A
Gallant was my first choice for filling David Quinn’s seat last offseason, and I was really pleased with the hire. Tocchet got an interview (would have been a disaster pick). Boudreau (a fine choice) and Claude Julien (not a fan of his systems) were also available, as were others. However, Gallant and his hands off style fit the bill for what this team needed after Quinn micro-managed his way out the door.
Hiring the right coach at the right time is a massive decision for a GM and Drury nailed this.
Signing Barclay Goodrow: B
Last offseason, Goodrow was one of my free agent targets. I won’t recap every reason I thought we should sign him here. However, in short, I felt the Rangers really needed a hardnosed player who can serve a utility function. Goodrow did just that playing up and down the lineup, and in every forward position. He also popped 33 points, which is great for a bottom six player.
I don’t love the contract as far as the term (6 years), but free agent signings are always costly. The reality is he’ still paid the same or less than Brandon Tanev, Joel Armia, Zack Kassian, and others who were all around the same age and output at the time of their contract signings.
The Buchnevich Trade: C
Much internet ink has been spilt on this trade, so I’m not going to beat a dead horse here. The short of it is, a top line RW should have fetched more than Sammy Blais (a career 4th liner) and a 2nd round pick. Supposedly no other offers materialized, and Drury wanted to move him so that Lafrenière and Kakko would get more ice time. This started the need for redemption for Chris Drury.
At the time, I understood the logic, but felt it would have been better to wait until the deadline or this past offseason to make a move. However, with a flat cap it seems player acquisition values are still a bit muted, so perhaps we were never going to get more than we did.
Trade Deadline Acquisitions: A
Frank Vatrano and Tyler Motte for 4th rounders, and Andrew Copp and a 6th for Morgan Barron, conditional 1st, and a 2nd were all good deals that pushed the team over the top. If it wasn’t for those trades, the Rangers are out of the postseason in the first round.
Drury was aggressive and he didn’t give up any prospects. That’s all you can really ask for in a GM making moves at the deadline. If you were upset with his offseason, then redemption for Chris Drury likely came at the deadline.
Other considerations: A
It’s worth noting that I like the contracts handed out to Ryan Lindgren, Igor Shesterkin, etc. As much as they all seem like no brainers, far worse contracts have been handed to homegrown players over the years (Staal, Girardi, Skjei, etc.) and none of these put us in a predicament now or in the future.
Overall Grade: B