Chris Drury has one season left on his contract, but has only four points in 21 games for New York this season. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
If you’re reading this, you probably know the mailbag routine pretty well by now. You send me questions and I respond to a selection of them – sometimes online, sometimes in the THN magazine and sometimes on the THN Radio Show.
If there are questions about the process, feel free to make your next AA submission on it. I probably will only repeat the above paragraph, but you’ll still get an answer. Until then, get a load of the latest batch:
Hey Adam, me and some buddies were talking hockey as usual after our game the other day and Wayne Gretzky came up. We were all wondering when and if he'd come back into an NHL role. There are quite a few teams that will be seeing coaching changes in the next couple years. But we came to the conclusion that him in Tampa Bay with the likes of Stevie Yzerman and company would create greatness. And we’re still bitter about the '04 Stanley Cup final here. (Except me, as I am seemingly Calgary's only St. Louis Blues fan). Either way, what's your take? Go Blues Go!
Kevin Kayeziak, Calgary
I’d guess Gretzky will be back in the NHL in some capacity in the next few years, because his passion for the game is simply too great to keep him on the outside looking in. If the league would wise up and pay him the money he’s still owed in Phoenix, he might be back sooner, but I’ve heard he’s quite content for now to enjoy his family – and goodness knows he deserves that time to himself.
When he does return, I doubt it would be in Tampa Bay; Yzerman doesn’t need someone above him – unless Gretzky wishes just to be a figurehead – and he certainly won’t be pushing Guy Boucher away from the Lightning’s bench.
He may want to be a coach again, but I think Gretzky will look to come back as the president of an NHL franchise when the right situation opens up (the same way Yzerman waited before picking his spot). Speculating where that might be – and trying to guess what twists of fate await the hockey world – is a waste of your time and mine.
Adam, I've heard of some European leagues where they let the teams pick who they play in the first round of the playoffs. For example, the top four teams get to pick who they want to play out of the bottom four. Do you think this would make the NHL playoffs more intriguing? It’s not often that a No. 8 seed knocks off a No. 1 seed, so I think this way would make for some good rivalries.
Ryan Niemela, Saskatoon, Sask.
Yours is an interesting proposition – and one that I’d bet fans and media would go gaga for – but it’s hard to envision the NHL adopting it.
For argument’s sake, let’s say you’re the fifth-seeded team at the end of the regular season; you busted your collective backside to get that high in the standings, but under that structure, you could wind up playing the juggernaut squad at the top of the conference simply because they wanted to (perhaps for travel reasons, perhaps because you’ve got an injury-depleted lineup). That doesn’t seem fair to me and it certainly wouldn’t to teams with millions of dollars in playoff games on the line.
Adam, what do you think the Montreal Canadiens are going to do about their defense situation? With Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges gone for the season, do you think they are going to trade for a high-profile defenseman come trade deadline?
Mike Stein, Montreal
I don’t doubt Habs GM Pierre Gauthier would want to add a skilled blueliner to fill in for an injured veteran, but the more relevant question is who would be available in a trade?
With the playoff race so competitive (or at least, so competitive on the surface), there may only be five or six teams at the Feb. 28 deadline willing to deal players to teams in need.
And the way things are shaping up thus far two, if not three of those teams, could be from Montreal’s division (Buffalo, Ottawa and Toronto), which would complicate matters even more. For example, it’s widely believed Chris Phillips will be on the block, but would Senators GM Bryan Murray be willing to ship him to a fierce rival?
Maybe, but maybe not. That’s why the Canadiens may have little choice but to ride it out with the players they have.
Hey Adam, do you think Chris Drury's time as a capable NHLer is over? He contributes absolutely no offense and at times looks completely lost on the ice.
As the Rangers get healthier and with the emergence of young players, there doesn't seem to be any room for him on the roster. It is my contention that he serves a healthy New York Rangers team best in the press box. Also, do you envision him getting bought out in the off-season?
Dern Foley, Manalapan, N.J.
Drury’s finger injury may have thrown off his game, but he’s logged a lot of hard miles on that 34-year-old body – including more than a regular-season-and-a-half of playoff games (130 in total) – so the end may indeed be near.
As for a buyout, he’ll be entering the final season of his contract next year; as such, it is logical the Rangers would explore a buyout (which would cut his $7.050 million cap hit down to $3.7 million, but add $1.66 million to their cap total for 2012-13).
The Blueshirts already are committed to $25.475 million in cap space (to only seven players) for that season, so management may just choose to suck it up next year, or, of course, demote Drury to the American League. The best alternative for the team would be for Drury to retire, but if you had that much money owing, would you?
Adam Proteau, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature appears Fridays.
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