Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rangers Buy Out Chris Drury; Other News From Around The NHL

As reported earlier today by Larry Brooks in the New York Post, the New York Rangers officially announced that they have bought out the remaining year on Chris Drury's contract. Drury and the team each issued separate statements on the buyout.

It was originally reported that Drury needed to be placed on waivers yesterday in order to be bought out today, but apparently Drury exercised his no-movement clause to block the Rangers from putting him on waivers so that he would be could become an unrestricted free agent. I assume that Drury did this because he would rather try and latch on with a team of his choosing rather than risking the rare possiblity of being claimed by a team struggling to meet the bottom of the salary cap requirements, like the Islanders, Coyotes or Panthers.

Brooks said that the Rangers will have a cap hit of approximately $3.717 million this season and $1.667 million next year, however Brooks warned that the cap hit next year could come off the books depending on what happens with negotiations of a new labor agreement.Brooks also said that Drury "is eligible to sign a one-year contract with bonuses because he was on IR for more than 100 days [last season]." I would imagine that this would make Drury a lot more attractive to other teams. I've heard the Maple Leafs, Sabres and Bruins tossed around as possible destinations, and I have a friend from Buffalo who has told me in the past that he'd like to have Drury back on the team.

I previously ripped Drury because it seemed like he was going to milk this knee injury thing as a way to prevent the Rangers from being able to buy him out, and to collect his full paycheck without ever suiting up for the team this year. Turns out, though, Drury showed why so many players and people in upper management all across the NHL think so highly of him. Drury clearly doesn't believe his career is over, and I'm sure if he can pass a physical some team out there will bring him in on a one-year deal. It's just a shame to see his Rangers career end like this. There's no doubt this had to be done, but I don't think anybody saw this coming back when Drury and Scott Gomez signed their mega deals on July 1, 2007.

I don't want to go too much into Chris Drury's disappointing tenure on Broadway, but if you want to read my feelings on the whole situation, you can can check it out here. All I'll say is that I was a bigger Drury fan than Gomez when they first came to the Rangers, and I really thought he was the kind of player who was capable of turning things around for the Rangers as far as leadership goes. It didn't work out, but Drury is still a class act and I hope he can continue his NHL career somewhere else because it seems clear that he really wants to keep playing hockey. Good luck, Chris.

You can read the official statements from Rangers GM Glen Sather here and you can read Chris Drury's statement on thanking the Rangers organization and their fans here. If you've seen one Sather press release you've seen them all, but I really recommend reading Drury's, as it was a nice gesture by the now-former Rangers captain. John Tortorella is expected to speak with the media tomorrow about Drury, as well as the Rangers' Prospects Developmental Camp that's underway.

Other news from around the NHL today via TSN:

- Paul Kariya officially announced his retirement from hockey today, citing post-concussion symptoms as the reason he has to hang up the skates. Kariya ends his 15-year NHL career with 402 goals and 587 assists. It's a shame to see anybody's career end that way, especially a guy who dedicated his life to hockey for so long.

- The Penguins officially offered Jaromir Jagr a one-year deal today. After initial reports earlier in the day said that Jagr decided to sign with Pittsburgh, Jagr's agent denied that rumor and said that Jagr would make a decision later today when his flight arrived in New York from the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, it's officially "later today" and still no word from Jagr yet. It's believed to be a two-team race for his services between the Red Wings and Penguins.

- The Islanders made two trades today that just about sums up their entire franchise. The Islanders traded a 4th round draft pick to Vancouver for the rights to defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, and then traded Ehrhoff's rights to the Sabres for their 4th round pick after the Islanders apparently became convinced that Ehrhoff flat out didn't want to sign with them. They reportedly offered Ehrhoff a pretty big deal, but he decided to reject their contract offer.

- The Canadiens traded defenseman James Wisniewski to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a 7th round draft pick. Not a bad gamble for Columbus if they can sign him to a new deal.

- The Florida Panthers signed RW Tomas Kopecky, who they acquired two days ago from the Blackhawks, to a whopping 4-year, $12 million deal. He recorded 15 goals and 27 assists for 42 points this past season (11 points in his final 34 games) and was a minus-13 for Chicago. Kopecky isn't a bad player, but $3 million per season seems like quite a generous contract from a team that will likely just barely hit the salary cap floor this season.

- Other notable re-signings from today: David Jones with the Avalanche (one year, terms undisclosed), Nathan Gerbe with the Sabres (three years, $4.3 million), Dwayne Roloson with the Lightning (one year, $3 million), Adam Hall with the Lightning (one year, $600,000), Mike Blunden with the Blue Jackets (one year, two-way deal, terms undisclosed), Andrew Alberts with the Canucks (two years, terms undisclosed), Chad Larose with the Hurricanes (two years, $3.4 million) and Brad Lukowich with the Stars (one year, two-way deal, terms undisclosed).

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