Chris Drury supports Gerard Gallant’s decision to include Kabu Kaku on the bench

“It’s been a great season,” said Rangers president and general manager Chris Drury, Gerard Gallant, who spoke to reporters on Wednesday in a season-ending conference call.

“First of all, I couldn’t be more proud of what our players and coaches have accomplished this season,” Drury said. “Obviously we are disappointed that we are not playing in [Stanley Cup] finals. We want to build on this experience as an organization and find ways to keep playing hockey. ”

Gallant, who was hired by Drury last summer to replace David Quinn, led the Rangers to 52 wins, 110 points in the regular season, and reached the Eastern Conference Final, where they eventually ran out of stock and lost to the two. Defending the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

Drury said of Gallant, who was a finalist for Jack Adams: NHL Coach of the Year.

The season ended Saturday with a 2-1 loss to Lightning in Tampa, and Galant surprised many when he decided to scratch young striker Capo Kaku, a move Drury said he supports.

“Kakko is a player from all over the world, he is a young player in this league, and he is still developing,” Drury said. “We had a really good discussion with him before he left yesterday. There is obviously a lot of faith in me and the staff, in what his future holds, and I know he’s excited for a good time and back next year and be ready… Like I said before, he’s [Gallant’s] The lineup card I support and trust in the decisions he makes. . . This is a decision he made.”

Drury, who has been in business for just over a year, is facing another busy case of the season as he tries to figure out how to get the Rangers to take another step toward winning the Stanley Cup next season. His biggest decision this summer will be to see who should be second, behind Mika Zibanijad and to play alongside Artemi Banarin.

Given Rangers’ stance on the salary cap – they will be tough against it after Zipanegad and Adam Fox sign big money contract extensions starting next season – it appears that the two inside options for second place are Ryan Strom. And Andrew Cope. It’s highly unlikely that Drury will be able to bring both players back, so he’ll have to pick one of them.

Of Copp, one of Drury’s acquisitions on the trade deadline, Drury said his ability to play as a winger or center “is a good thing to have for any lineup.” From Strom, who explained on Monday’s breakup day that he had said, I’d love to go back, ‘Ryan is a great guy and a great player, and he’s definitely making a home here. And we’re excited that he wants to be here. And we think about his world, both on and off the ice.’ ‘

Drury said he is still waiting to see if Strom will need surgery to repair a pelvic injury that troubled him in the second half of the season and caused him to quit Saturday’s game after two stints.

Drori also had nice things to say about 22-year-old striker Vitaly Kravtsov, who agreed to a one-year $875,000 contract over the weekend after returning to Russia to play last season when Rangers sent him to the minor leagues after. Training camp.

“We’re excited to have him back, and I don’t think we’ve ever wavered in our position that he’s a worldwide talent,” he said. “He does many things on the ice that not many people can do. He has volume [6-2, 193]His hockey feel is through the roof, and so is his skill.”

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