Kukla's Korner Hockey
by David Pavlak on 08/20/11 at 06:05 PM ET
The New Jersey Devils received news about 48 hours ago that Travis Zajac will miss anywhere from 8-10 weeks after undergoing Achilles surgery. 8-10 weeks is an estimate, keep in mind, meaning that the top line center could miss more time then originally expected. One wrong turn could put him on the shelf for the rest of the year. Devils coach Peter DeBoer will ultimately begin to switch up lines in order to help even everything out in New Jersey.
At the same time of the Zajac news, came some other interesting news: Chris Drury has retired. If I was the Devils GM, my eyebrow would of raised immediately.
Sure, there are promising young prospects in the Devils organization that could move up in the absence of Zajac, most notably Henrique and Josefson could prove vital. Josefson, in a small sample size, showed that he was able to play with the Devils last season, while Henrique is still waiting for his name to be called in order to give it a shot. Both have a huge upside to them.
But, what could have a bigger upside to them than someone who already knows the ins-and-outs of the NHL. Drury has won a Stanley Cup, two silver medals and a bronze for team USA, and has been considered a winner with almost every team he has played for. There was a lot of negative backlash this past season with Drury who was heavily criticized more for the amount of money the New York Rangers owed him then anything else. The Rangers were asking more of Drury then he could give. His strong play in Colorado and Buffalo came with some nice pieces around him. The Rangers never had those key pieces.
If you take a look at the numbers over the past four seasons he played with the Rangers, they’re not bad. They aren’t first-line-team-captain good, but they are still very good numbers. 58 points his first year, 56 his next, 32 after that, and then 5 points in a season in which he played 24 games due to his inability to stay injury free. The Rangers were looking for the next big thing when they signed Drury. He gave them what he had, but was never going to fulfill the expectations put upon him by the organization.
This is where the Devils could step in. If they move Elias into the center on the top line, they could put Drury as the center on the second line. He was always a second line center who was always put on the first line. If you recognize where his strengths are, you would imagine the talent would come second hand.
Nicknamed “Captain Clutch” for his timely goal scoring ability, he could be an asset to the Devils who will be looking for more pucks in the net. I do not think Drury wanted to retire, but did it simply because he felt he had to. No one was looking for his services, and a veteran like Drury would rather retire then be sitting covered in dust waiting for someone to call his name.
Speculation about whether he is able to play is still up in the air. His knee that was injured the previous year may still not be 100%, although he did go out and play the final game of the year and into the playoffs for the Rangers. As a free agent, and with a healthy knee, I think the Devils could jump on the opportunity, even if it was for a one-year deal.
With 615 points registered through his 12 years played, he has shown one thing: he is a winner. If he is healthy enough to play, the Devils should put in a call because if there is one thing they could never have enough of, its winners.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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