Upon completion of practice today, the New York Rangers announced that Chris Drury will be sidelined for six weeks as he is set to undergo surgery on his ailing knee. According to Andrew Gross, John Tortorella bristled at the notion that anybody had last week that Drury's knee injury was fabricated. Torts said his knee needs to be "scraped out."
The Rangers' captain has played in just 23 games this year after dealing with a twice-broken left finger and he has missed the past two games with this bothersome knee. He has just four assists and has averaged just over 12 minutes of ice time this season, primarily being utilized in a fourth line/penalty kill role and defensive zone faceoff man. While Drury has seen his production drop into the abyss over the past two seasons -- to the point of being almost invisible this year -- with New York, the quiet leader has never complained about his declining role with the team.
What does this all mean for the Broadway Blueshirts in the interim?
Number one: It means no real short-term roster battles. Ruslan Fedotenko and Drury not withstanding, the Rangers have essentially returned to full health. All indications were that despite Drury's disappearing act on most nights, he wasn't going to be scratched ever -- which meant that the Erik Christensen's and possibly Sean Avery's of the world would have to be. With Drury's injury, Christensen stays in the lineup for the foreseeable future and Avery deservedly will as well. This gives the Rangers ample time to evaluate the roster and gives the bottom-six guys chances to prove themselves to the coaching staff.
Number two: Six weeks puts Drury's return at the second-to-last week of March, meaning if his recovery goes swiftly, he could be back for about the last two weeks of the season. This means the Rangers are truly playing their "best" 12 forwards when Fedotenko returns -- as Drury was definitely not one of them this season. Fedotenko isn't expected back for another three weeks, meaning his return is likely at or around the Feb. 28 trade deadline -- and who knows what Glen Sather will do by then. Does Drury even have a spot when he returns in late March? He most likely does, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he does not.
Number three: Despite all the positives written about Drury's leadership and how he is still revered in the locker room, this truly becomes Ryan Callahan's, Marc Staal's and Brandon Dubinsky's team right now. Just another chance -- and hopefully step -- in grooming the future leaders of this Rangers squad.
Drury will most likely be placed on long-term injured reserve, but according to CapGeek, the Rangers currently have space for a $7.8 million hit today -- which will amount to $10.8 come the trade deadline. Putting Drury on long-term injured reserve will do nothing to improve their financial situation -- and it's unlikely the Rangers acquire someone with that large of a hit come Feb. 28.