The 2010-11 New York Rangers were a team built around a young core with very few “veterans” on the roster. By the time the season ended the team only had six players that were over 30-years-old left around the team. The question right now is other than Martin Biron, who is under contract for next season, will any of them survive the summer and still be Rangers next year or will the organization go even younger in building around their core.
Andrew Gross at the Bergen Record doesn’t seem to think that any of captain Chris Drury, left wing Vinny Prospal and Avery will be back.
“Listening to John Tortorella, you got the strong feeling captain Chris Drury, left wing Vinny Prospal and Avery had played their last games as Rangers. The coach, of course, doesn’t have final say but it will be no surprise if Drury is bought out, Prospal not re-signed and Avery somehow moved, through a buyout, demotion to the AHL or trade. Avery does have a full no-trade clause from July 1 to Aug. 14, otherwise he can list 10 teams he wishes not to be dealt to.”
Add to that the certain departure of Bryan McCabe that would only leave Ruslan Fedotenko as possibly returning to join the over 30 crowd with Biron. None of the names that Gross mentions are surprising in possibly being gone next season. There has been talk about a Drury buyout for months given the $3.33 million the team can save making the move and the albatross that is contract compared to what he currently brings the team. The idea of the Drury buyout is something that was discussed here back in January and I fully support the move, but much like the Redden demotion last summer, until it happens I will not be banking on that money. There is still a lot of respect within the organization for Drury and buying out the captain of your team is never an easy move to make.
Prospal is an interesting case to make to stay or go because despite his injuries this year he was productive when on the ice. In 29 games this season, Prospal scored nine goals and had 14 assists to give him the second highest point-per-game average on the team (.793), trailing only Ryan Callahan. There were times where the amount of struggle Prospal was having to skate was painful to watch and showed how bad the knee might really be, but his experience and guile allowed him to get by and produce. In addition it is impossible to understate the value of his attitude and work ethic around a young group of players.
In terms of Avery, despite his playoff performance, there is no surprise he would be on the list of players potentially headed out of town. He was ineffective for much of the year because of the style he was playing at. The skill level is still there to be an effective distributor and so is his ability to agitate, but it was his reluctance to play the agitating role this season that caused a decline in his effectiveness. Where Avery is concerned, I think the most likely scenario is a demotion to the AHL because a buyout to eat some, even if only marginal cap space makes little sense for the Rangers when they could send him down for nothing. It is unlikely that given the issues he had in Dallas, and the decreased effectiveness of his game that someone would trade for him, but it is certainly possible someone would take the risk for a cheap price and have the ability to send him down themselves.
The Rangers have been transitioning to more homegrown players over the past few years and if these three, along with McCabe are shown the door it will open more spots for youth, but at some point there also have to be some veterans sprinkled in around them. Then again, much of the Rangers core has been around long enough that despite their status as being under 30-years-old they are veterans of the league.