NHL: Chris Drury Out With Knee Surgery—Done For Good?

Matthew CalamiaCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05:  Chris Drury #23 of the New York Rangers skates against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on January 5, 2011 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Hurricanes 2-1 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Early reports dealing with New York Rangers captain Chris Drury have indicted that he'll need knee surgery and will be out of the lineup for six weeks healing.

But could that just be a pipe dream?

Knee surgery is a difficult option to gauge a comeback.

The Rangers know all too well this season with Vinny Prospal: His roller coaster return from knee surgery was a thing of legend, with several set backs preventing him from returning before February.

Drury, who began the season on the IR with a broken index finger suffered during training camp and then again on opening night, has an uphill battle ahead of him if he hopes to return to not only the Rangers, but to the NHL. He'll be 35 years old this August and his knees aren't getting any younger.

Drury has had a miserable 2010-11 season. He missed the first two months of the season with the broken finger and in 23 games this season, the Trumbull, CT. native has just four assists.

If Drury is able to come back (a big if), his spot is not guaranteed at all. There is already a log-jam of sorts for the Rangers up front.

Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan and Mats Zucarello are locks to stay in the lineup right now, with Rusland Fedetenko returning sometime in March. Drury's lack of production this season does not guarantee him a spot, nor should it.

Many fans feel he never lived up to his outrageous five-year, $35.25 deal in the summer of 2007 and it is a fair argument. In Drury's defense, though, he's stayed consistent to his career average. It is hard to fault a guy for accepting a ridiculous contract offer.

A buyout now isn't out of the question for Glen Sather. If the Rangers do buy him out, the penalties would be a cap hit of $3.7 million for next season, followed by $1.6 million for 2012-13.

All signs pointing to the Rangers making a strong pitch to land Brad Richards, so having $2 million extra in cap space could be enticing.

Of course, if Drury retires after this season, he forfeits the final year and paycheck all together, but that is unlikely.

Many have the utmost respect for Drury. He's been the definition of a professional with his ice time depletion and removal from any offensive role.

He's been a victim of a bloated contract that may finally see a finish come June.