On June 29, 2011, the New York Rangers finalized a buyout deal with Captain Chris Drury. The buyout affected the final season of a disastrous five-year, over $35 million contract with the Blue Shirts.
Since this is an article speculating about team that would love to sign Drury, addressing the elephant in the room right away is the best policy. He has seen diminished productivity and has a knee condition, that at the very least would cause concern for any team looking to sign him.
The intent there is not to brush these facts aside like they are meaningless. Far from it. Each concern on its own is a valid enough reason to think twice and maybe even thrice about offering Drury a contract.
2010-11 was a disaster for Drury. But his 2009-10 season was not much better. That season he played 77 games and produced 32 points. Many take it as a sign that his ability to produce has greatly diminished.
As far as the injury situation goes, Drury is going to have to undergo a thorough medical examination by any interested team. He is going to be viewed as damaged goods until an interested team's physician deems him otherwise.
You can read up about the speculation that Drury may not even be able to play next season, or any other one from the New York Post's Larry Brooks. The article is from June 17, 2011, so is there the possibility that this information has or can change still? Anything is possible.
Remember that Peter Forsberg suited up for a few games last season, even though it did not last.
Passing a physical becomes the key to this entire situation. Without that hurdle being cleared, Drury's days in the NHL are over and these teams will turn their attention elsewhere.
Now that the elephant has been addressed, there are some selling points for Drury left. These reasons are why there would still be real interest on the part of teams to sign him, despite the risk.
At the top of the list of reasons is the fact that Chris Drury, despite his troubles, is still a respected player among his NHL piers. A guy with over 1,000 NHL games between regular season and playoffs generally will get that proverbial stick-tap until he hangs 'em up.
Any team willing to take a chance on Drury knows that they are not inheriting a guy that will cause trouble in the room.
Consider the following quote from Jesse Spector of The Blueshirt Blog, which describes Drury's influence on the Rangers while he was battling back from his worst season as a professional in the largest media market in the United States:
Many of the Rangers who were in the playoffs for the first time spoke of Drury’s positive influence, how he had spoken before the postseason about the importance of the opportunity, and that you never know how many chances you will get to chase the Stanley Cup.
In addition to leadership, potential suitors also get a defensively responsible veteran that knows how to handle himself in situations on the ice. Even if he has lost a step or two, those 1,000 games provide him with the knowledge to find a way to position himself and outwork an opponent.
It easy to bet against the guy at this point, but look at an intangible in this situation. Drury could easily have caused problem in New York by refusing the buyout on the basis of his medical issues.
The fact that he did not speaks volumes about his character and his desire to still play in the NHL. While he is still getting a nice chunk of change from the Rangers, he can supplement that with a lesser deal in a good situation.
Bottom line is the guy knows how to be a team player and meet his role. The guy has been a winner since his time in the Little League World Series.
Yes, he has had a few down years. It also is a gigantic question mark hanging out there as to whether or not he can pass a physical with his knee.
But if he does, my speculation is that the following seven teams will likely be looking to get him in their locker room.