It appears as though Chris Drury may be packing his bags, according to early reports from the New York Post. Naming several sources close to GM Glen Sather, it appears as though the Rangers are prepared to buy out the remaining year of his $7 million contract.
Head coach John Tortorella’s comments on April 25th regarding Drury certainly did not give the veteran a ringing endorsement.
"We have to make decisions for what's best for the organization moving on... It's certainly not mine, my total decision, but I have my thoughts."
Drury had a difficult season a year ago, netting just one goal and four assists while missing 59 games with assorted injuries.
The buyout window is June 15-30, and the Rangers could buy out Drury’s contract, meaning just $3.3 million of his cap hit would count for the upcoming year. Wojtek Wolski is another candidate for contract buyout, and coupled with Drury’s buyout, New York would be saving $6.8 million in salary next year.
While it may seem as though the Rangers are clearing space for their bid to win the Brad Richards sweepstakes, the Sharks could stand to gain from signing Drury once he hits the open market.
Here are the top five reasons why.
Chris Drury may have his warts to the average hockey fan considering his declining offensive abilities, but he’s still a leader both on the ice and off.
If you are looking for intangibles, Drury oozes the kind of championship leadership required in the postseason.
He’s a player that will do what it takes and isn’t afraid to pay the price to make the play, something the Sharks' bottom six forwards had problems doing late in the playoffs.
While some may look at his meager point totals and laugh, you cannot question his dedication and hard work on the ice. On a team that openly questioned the overall work ethic a few times this season, this aspect cannot be overlooked.
The struggles only worsened come playoff time, where the Sharks lost several key draws in crucial situations.
Excluding Thornton’s numbers, the Sharks went 96-252 during the Western Conference semifinals, with 98 of those losses coming in the defensive zone.
Considering the fact that this was against a hobbled Detroit Red Wing team and a one-armed Pavel Datsyuk only exaggerates the problems.
In lieu of San Jose’s defensive collapses this year and power-play struggles, Drury could bring a significant boost to this area of need. He took most of the draws for New York in the playoffs, winning 62.9 percent of them, and won 56.4 percent in the regular season.
Barring injury, he could be one of the top faceoff men for San Jose, and his career numbers in the postseason shows his determination to win when it counts.
While he’ll never score 37 goals again as he did with the Buffalo Sabres, Drury is still one of the top defensive forwards in the game today.
He’s one of the league’s premier shot-blocking forwards and could provide a significant defensive boost to the Sharks' third line for the right price.
He averaged a little less than two minutes of penalty kill time a year ago and consistently leads his team in blocked shots and takeaways.
Drury led the Rangers in goal and shot differential short-handed in two consecutive years but had a poor showing a year ago. His even-strength game hasn’t changed much, where his goals-against and shots-against differential again led the Blueshirts in limited action.
Drury can play all three positions and would eat up valuable minutes on the penalty killing unit for the San Jose Sharks.
His natural position is center, and he would fit right in on the Sharks' fourth line or alongside Joe Pavelski on the third line.
He’s still got a decent shot and could man the point on the power-play if needed. He’s also right-handed, meaning he could play the puck with his forehand.
His presence with the Rangers has been invaluable, mentoring youngsters like Derek Stepan, and he would fit in well on the San Jose roster. He could play a big role in developing San Jose’s next generation of players such as Logan Couture, Jamie McGinn, Freddie Hamilton and Andrew Desjardins.
San Jose’s 24th-ranked PK unit limped into the postseason this year after finishing in the top five in penalty-killing efficiency a year ago. Once a foundation of strength, the Sharks PK became a glaring weakness after losing Malhotra in free agency last year.
Signing Chris Drury to a responsible contract in the $1 million or $2 million a year range will help the Sharks improve their PK, an obvious area of need.
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, Drury would take away short-handed ice time from Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, who both led the Sharks this year. He would also be a huge upgrade over the Sharks skaters that averaged more than a minute of PK time this year in Torrey Mitchell, Jamal Mayers and Scott Nichol.
For those fans pining for Brooks Laich or Joel Ward, Chris Drury may be the cheaper and most cost-efficient alternative. If a reasonable number can be reached, signing Drury is a no-brainer for Doug Wilson and the San Jose Sharks.
His play and skill set would provide a defensive boost for the team, and his intangibles could push the Sharks over the hump both on the ice and off.