Chris Drury took control of the New York Rangers as president and general manager before the 2021 season began.
Expectations for the team were high following a disappointing 2020 season that saw the Rangers clean house. Chris Drury and new head coach, Gerard Gallant were in charge of making sure the Rangers young talent meshed well enough to produce a consistent winner.
Step one was completed. The Rangers recorded their highest win total, (52) and got as far as the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2014 team.
For Chris Drury, the recent playoff run is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things for the Rangers.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what our players and coaches accomplished this season. We have a special group in that room. Obviously we’re disappointed we’re not playing right now in the Final, but we want to build on this as an organization.” Chris Drury said to reporters today.
Most of the playoff success has been attributed to the youth on the roster shining at just the right time for New York. Defenseman, Adam Fox was second on the team in points in the playoffs, while Igor Shesterkin dominated in the cage for the Blue Shirts all postseason long.
Perhaps no line was stronger though than the vaunted “kid line” during the postseason run.
The “kid line” of Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil took over the Stanley Cup Playoffs and knocked off perennial playoff contenders like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes, both in seven games.
The line totaled 23 points in the playoffs with the average age of the three being just 20-years old.
While the season ended with a thud for the “kids” Drury felt that the youth of the team wasn’t the whole picture.
“The leadership group did a fantastic job this year – not just the players with the A’s on their sweaters. You don’t get to 52 wins and to the Conference Finals without having terrific leadership.” Drury said.
While the youth and leadership on the team was on full display, the stars of the roster, most notably Chris Krieder, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, also were huge contributors to the playoff run the Rangers made.
“We make a big deal out of what an experience this was for the kids, but Artemi + Mika + Kreids + other players that had been in the playoffs hadn’t been in a number of years.” Chris Drury added. “They took strides in knowing + seeing what it takes to get this deep into the playoffs.”
What’s next for Chris Drury and the Rangers?
While the Rangers season has ended after a terrific season, there are questions that will only grow with the offseason starting.
With Kaapo Kakko being an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and being benched in Game 6, the contract talks will only get more complicated for the Blue Shirts and their former as the months go by.
Questions surrounding Ryan Strome, Ryan Reaves and others, will make Drury’s offseason immensely important.
Regardless of what happens in the offseason, the building blocks are set for the future of the Rangers. It will be up to Chris Drury to make the correct moves to have New York ready to go for sustained success in a loaded Metropolitan Division.
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