Chris Drury

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.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.