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What the Drury buyout and Ehrhoff trade mean for Rangers, Isles

New York Rangers center Chris Drury (23) prepares

New York Rangers center Chris Drury (23) prepares for a face off during the first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 23, 2010) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Chris Drury has been bought by the Rangers, the team announced today.

Drury was a target of fans who didn't love his play here his first year-plus in New York; since he suffered a broken hand that rendered him a shadow of his usual self in the first-round playoff loss to the Caps in 2008-09, Drury's Rangers career has been marred by injuries, the last of which is a knee problem that could have left him on the long-term injury list for the season.

But Drury refused to make those sorts of waves, even if it had been on the table last week. Whatever his performance with the Rangers -- and, quite honestly, the highlight of his four years as a Ranger likely came in Vancouver last February, when he had a terrific Olympic tournament for the U.S. alongside the likely next Ranger captain, Ryan Callahan -- he is a class guy, the sort who would have made a perfect captain for this young group had he not been so affected by the broken hand, a twice-broken finger and a bad knee.

The Rangers move on now, with $3.3-million more of cap space to take into Friday's free agency period. There don't seem to be any perfect fits in free agency beyond Brad Richards, so perhaps Glen Sather will weave his summer trade magic yet again to procure a gritty depth winger or a veteran defenseman with this new cap space.

As for the Islanders and the surprising move to acquire Christian Ehrhoff's rights last night, good for them for trying to make a pitch to a top potential free agent. A fourth-round pick for a 60-hour window of exclusive negotiation may seem steep, especially when it's not even known what Ehrhoff's feelings are about playing here, but Garth Snow is trying to get in the game for a second straight summer.

The key will be whether Snow and Charles Wang, with a month to go until the arena vote, are willing to front-load an offer. As our intrepid Isles reporter Katie Strang noted the other day, front-loaded contracts will be the standard this summer because of the almost certain salary rollback that's coming with a new collective bargaining agreement in 2012; Brad Richards, whether he signs with the Rangers or elsewhere, will make $8-10 million in salary next season, then have it go down steeply after 2012.

So any offer to Ehrhoff that's appealing would have to include $7-8 million in salary for next season. Without the arena deal secure, that may be a tough sell for Wang and Snow, but it's how the big-name guys get signed.

We'll know more today whether Snow's gamble has paid off.

New York Sports