Philadelphia Flyers Free Agent Rumors: Is Chris Drury a Good Fit?

Matt DiFerdinandoContributor IIIJuly 12, 2011

BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 20:  Chris Drury #23 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the New York Islanders during Game 5 of the NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on April 20, 2007 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. The Sabres defeated the Islanders 4-3.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

From 2005-2007, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury were co-captains of two of the most successful Buffalo Sabres teams ever.  

In '06-'07 in particular, Drury scored 37 goals and 69 points while Briere added 32 goals and 95 points—career highs for both players.  They were the key pieces on back-to-back Eastern Conference Finalists but fled for greener pastures (Briere to the Philadelphia Flyers, Drury to the New York Rangers) following that season.

Could a reunion be in the cards?

According to Philadelphia talk show host Howard Eskin, that may be the case.

While the Flyers continue to monitor the situation in Tampa Bay with Steven Stamkos—unlikely as that may be—Eskin reported they have established Drury as a backup plan.  

The odds against a Stamkos signing are astronomical, so Flyers fans may want to get used to the idea of the former captain of the Rangers in orange and black.

While his years in New York weren't nearly as successful as the team hoped, as he struggled with injury and a lack of production until being bought out of his contract earlier this month, the signing of Drury would be a good addition for the Philadelphia Flyers to make.

The aforementioned connection with Briere is certainly a good start.  Briere just lost his line-mate—and by all accounts good friend—in Ville Leino, and the addition of Drury would certainly give both he and Briere a boost.  Not that you sign a player to make one person on your team happy, but it never hurts.

Drury is the ultimate character guy.  On a team that just lost captain Mike Richards, who despite his rumored locker room shortcomings was a great teammate on the ice, the addition of Drury would be a welcome thing.  

He plays a game very similar to Richards, and while at age 34 he may not be the offensive talent that Richards is, his style of play would endear him very quickly to Flyers fans.  

Drury is the type of player you have to have in order to win a Stanley Cup.  He is well known as a clutch performer, as his 17 career playoff game-winning goals show.  

He has scored some of the most memorable goals in recent playoff history, but one stands out in particular.

In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Rangers in 2007, down 1-0 with 7.7 seconds left in regulation, Drury scored on a rebound to tie the game.  The Sabres would win in overtime on a Maxim Afinogenov goal and win the series in six games.

Joe Sakic, his teammate in Colorado, was quoted in a 2007 issue of Sports Illustrated as saying:

"You want a goal, you're in overtime—you want him."

Flyers fans could probably get used to that.

The team's evident need for a center also makes this a smart move.  Currently, it has Claude Giroux, Briere, Maxime Talbot and Blair Betts as its centers (with Brayden Schenn likely making the team as well).  

Adding another center in Drury would give the Flyers much-needed veteran depth at the position, enabling coach Peter Laviolette to have more flexibility with his lines.

The Flyers' biggest asset during the past few seasons has been their depth, and with the trades of Jeff Carter and Richards, and the loss of Ville Leino and even the enigmatic Nikolay Zherdev, they need players like Drury to help fill some of the void.

The price to sign Drury certainly wouldn't be that high.  

Coming off of a deal that carried a $7.05 million annual cap hit, and having made $8 million last year, Drury shouldn't be looking for—or expecting—more than a $2 million-dollar deal this time around.  

As it currently stands, the Flyers have $1.57 million in cap space for the upcoming season, but with rumors surrounding the potential trade of Sergei Bobrovsky and the eventual retirement of Ian Laperriere, that should jump up to a number that would easily fit Drury.

While Drury certainly does carry his risks—he is a 34-year-old center coming off an injury-plagued season—if he is signed in a third line capacity, he could prove to be another valuable piece added by Paul Holmgren during his summer makeover of the Philadelphia Flyers.