Wednesday, February 9, 2011
The Drury injury impact
By Mike Hume
I guess it just wouldn't be right if the Rangers didn't have at least one prominent player on the IR.
Captain Chris Drury will be on the shelf for six weeks with a knee injury that will require surgery. That puts him back in the lineup around the end of March if the estimate proves correct. If that's the case, the Rangers will have to make do without their captain for all but the final seven or so games of their playoff push.
The good news is that the Rangers, hard up in the goal-scoring department, won't miss much in terms of point production. After returning from a broken hand that landed him on the IR at the start of the season, Drury has just 4 assists and no goals in 23 games.
What they will miss however, beyond his oft-mentioned intangibles, is Drury's prowess at winning draws. At 56.2 percent, Drury leads all Blueshirt centermen who have taken more than 200 faceoffs. That shouldn't be overlooked either. The Rangers have been atrocious at the faceoff dot this season, winning just 46.1 percent, the third-worst mark in the league. Currently, only Brandon Dubinsky sits over 50 percent with more than 200 draws. That hurts, particularly in key situations such as special teams when winning the puck can make the difference between clearing the zone or setting up the power play. And in close games, that be the difference between a win and a loss.
The Rangers may give Vinny Prospal a few more faceoff opportunities now that he's healthy again. He posted a mark of 51.2 in 639 draws last season. The Blueshirts could also recall Kris Newbury, who won nearly 60 percent during his eight games in the bigs this season.
Drury will also leave a hole on the penalty kill, particularly with Ruslan Fedotenko still out. On average, Drury logs the fourth most minutes per game on the PK behind Ryan Callahan, Dubinsky and Brian Boyle, with an average of 1:45.
Update: Just checked in with Matt Wuest, the actual Cap Geek behind CapGeek.com. Here's what he had to say about how Drury's injury could impact the Rangers' trade deadline approach.
"Without any LTIR relief, they can already add a full-season cap hit of about $10.8 million on deadline day. That's probably going to be more than enough to acquire whoever they want. There are scenarios where the Rangers could gain additional cap space by placing Drury on LTIR for the rest of the season, but it is too early to say exactly how much."
So there you have it, sounds like the Rangers have plenty of space in the old shopping cart, now will the see anything they like on the market?