Chris Drury accepts buyout from New York Rangers and will become free agent

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The Chris Drury era in New York is over.

After speculation that’s been raging for the last month or so saying the Rangers would buy out the team captain, the hammer fell today as the Rangers will end their relationship with Drury and buy him out of the final year of his contract. While Drury had the option to not go waivers thanks to his no-movement clause, he chose to accept the buyout from the team and look to play elsewhere next season.

Larry Brooks of the New York Post broke the news today and got the scoop from Drury himself.

“It was a great honor and privilege to be a New York Ranger for the past four years, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to fulfill that childhood dream,” Drury said in a statement that was sent to The Post by e-mail. “The Rangers are a first-class organization with great people in the hockey, public relations, team services and community relations departments.

“I would also like to thank Ranger fans. They always inspired me to do the best I could in whatever role I was asked to play. Playing before them in the Garden was a thrill of a lifetime. I wish all the fans and the entire Ranger organization the best of luck in the future.”

Forever the classy player, Drury goes out with the Rangers after what proved to be a productive but still disappointing career in Manhattan. While Drury’s role with the team after signing in New York as a free agent from Buffalo was clear as a solid penalty killer and leader, the contract he was given that paid him $35 million over five years put expectations on him to be a first line scorer and player to eventually raise the Stanley Cup again in New York.

That never happened however as Drury’s role as a playmaker without Daniel Briere at his side like he had in Buffalo and instead making due with a disinterested Jaromir Jagr and eventually Marian Gaborik proved to not work out at all. Drury joined New York along with Scott Gomez for virtually identical deals and neither player worked out very well and while Drury was mostly appreciated in New York, he still didn’t meet their expectations. Injuries put a major damper in his season this year as he battled a broken finger and a knee injury to play in just 24 games this year as well as all five games in the playoffs.

With Drury bought out now, GM Glen Sather will have over $3 million in dead cap space to deal with this year and nearly $2 million in dead space next season thanks to the NHL CBA buyout rules that say the cap hit is 2/3’s of the amount spread out over twice the length of the deal remaining. With just one year left on Drury’s contract, it pays out quietly over this season and next. The Rangers will have to get deals done with restricted free agents Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky still but they’re in need of a top line playmaker and are going to be hot after Brad Richards.

If nothing else, how things played out with Drury should be a reminder to Sather and to the Dolan family that owns the Rangers that sometimes the big fish on the market doesn’t always get you the ultimate prize you’re looking for. While the Drury signing happened back in the summer of 2007, it’s one that should sit fresh in their minds as they wade into a free agent market with one big 31 year-old prize out there.

‘A good start’ — Stamkos stands out in preseason debut

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The Tampa Bay Lightning and National Hockey League unveiled the 2018 All-Star Game logo Friday.

Far more importantly for the Bolts this evening was the return of their all-star center Steven Stamkos, as he made his preseason debut in what was his first game in 10 months.

His 2016-17 season was abruptly ended in the middle of November because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, making it the second time in four years his regular season had been disrupted by a major injury.

It may still take a while before Stamkos feels truly comfortable coming back from this injury.But his performance on Friday proved to be a very promising start for No. 91, the Bolts and their fans in Tampa Bay.

He didn’t score, but he assisted on two first period goals, including a nice set-up to linemate Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1. Stamkos also received a healthy dose of ice time, playing more than 19 minutes, including 5:32 on the power play.

His pass to Kucherov resulted in a power play goal.

“It was exciting to get out there, I was pretty anxious about it… It was a good start, something to build on,” said Stamkos afterward, per the Lightning. “It was nice to just go through a game day, I haven’t done it in a long time… I was glad with how the first one went.”

Golden Knights assign 2017 first-round picks Glass, Suzuki to junior

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The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make roster moves during their inaugural training camp.

On Friday, the expansion club assigned four players to junior. That includes 2017 first-round picks Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.

The Golden Knights made franchise history by taking Glass with the sixth overall pick and then selected Suzuki at 13th overall. Both players appeared in two preseason games for Vegas, each recording two points in the exhibition opener versus the Vancouver Canucks.

“Nobody is going to rush (the rookies), that’s for sure,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Sun following the club’s 9-4 win over Vancouver on Sunday.

“We are in a position where we want to make sure they are ready to play. They are going to be good players when they’re healthy and strong enough to play in the league.”

Vegas has all three 2017 first-round picks — Glass, Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — signed to three-year entry-level contracts.

Mitchell signed PTO with Blue Jackets — shortly after getting cut by Blackhawks

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When the Chicago Blackhawks announced their roster moves yesterday, John Mitchell was among the cuts.

His professional tryout with the Blackhawks had come to an end, as it did for veterans Mark Stuart and Drew Miller.

It can be an uphill battle to make an NHL roster for veterans on professional tryouts. But for Mitchell, he quickly received another opportunity to attend a camp and try to land a spot, signing a PTO with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Mitchell, 32, has appeared in 548 NHL regular season games with 70 goals and 177 points.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are still without forward and restricted free agent Josh Anderson, as the two sides are stuck in a contract impasse right now. It was reported on Thursday that his representatives have been in contact with Hockey Canada about the 2018 Olympics.

Calgary mayor: ‘Errors of omission’ in Flames arena proposal

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On Thursday, the Calgary Flames released a report claiming they were prepared to contribute $275 million for a new arena, with additional funding — in the ball park of $225 million — from a Community Revitalization Levy.

On Friday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi responded to the proposal and the events of yesterday.

“I wouldn’t say dishonesty. I would, however, say that there are perhaps some errors of omission,” Nenshi told reporters, according to Global Calgary, when asked if there had been a level of dishonesty from the Flames with their proposal.

The Flames not only released a report with financial details to their website, but they also took out ads in local newspapers. Nenshi took issue with the details the Flames released yesterday.

“What was in that ad was not actually what the last deal on the table with the city was,” he said.

“For example, yesterday you saw that the Flames’ owners are claiming that they’re putting $275 million up front. Makes it sound like a (check) is being put on the table. Certainly that has not been discussed. That would’ve really changed things had that been the discussion.

“The discussion, the last I saw, was the Flames were putting $100 million in and the rest would be a ticket tax, which they wanted the city to take out, to get for and to front. I’m not quite sure how that equals the Flames putting in money up front.”

Yesterday, the Flames added in their report that, after two years of discussions with the city about a new arena, they will no longer pursue a new arena in Calgary.

The Flames currently play at the Saddledome, which is now 34 years old.