The leading candidates are former Hartford Wolf Pack players Ryan Callahan, All-Star Marc Staal and Brandon Dubinsky and newcomer Brad Richards, the free-agent plum this year who signed a nine-year, $60 million contract with the Rangers on July 2.
Dubinsky (54 points) and Callahan (48 points) were the Rangers’ leading scorers last season, though Callahan missed 22 games because of injuries. Staal has named an All-Star for the first time while paired with another former Wolf Pack player, Dan Girardi. Callahan, the Rangers’ de facto captain last season with Drury injured most of the season, is the overwhelming choice of fans on BlueshirtsUnited.com.
The franchise’s 26th captain is needed after Drury retired after the final year of his five-year, $35.25 million contract was bought out July 30. Drury sat out most of the 2010-11 season with finger and knee injuries, finishing with only one goal and four assists in 24 games. He missed 68 games, which was more than in his first 11 NHL seasons combined, and then he couldn’t latch on with another team.
“Chris is a consummate professional, a tremendous competitor and an even better person,” Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said in a statement at the time of the buyout. “He gave his heart and soul to the Rangers organization in his time here and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Drury received $3,333,333, and the Rangers incurred a $3.7 million of dead space against the salary cap this season and $1.7 million next season, provided those guidelines remain the same under a new collective bargaining agreement.
The Rangers saved about $1.5 million, which was used to sign Richards, who had 28 goals and 49 assists in 72 games with the Dallas Stars last season, increasing his career totals to 220 goals and 496 assists in 10 NHL seasons with the Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning. And he has a strong link with Rangers coach John Tortorella as the two won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004.