That would be his tendon being cut, fyi.

The Boyes/Stafford Dilemma

Alright, time to lay out a question I’ve had for a while now. Why exactly is Brad Boyes the first in line for trading for many people, while Drew Stafford is considered a core player who needs to stick around?

Brad Boyes and Drew Stafford

Why exactly can there only be one?

The Sabres are starting to press up against the salary cap, and fans are still yearning for this team to acquire an elite center. As we know by now the Sabres would have to trade for one, which would probably entail packaging one of the team’s above-average-but-not-great wingers with a young defenseman (I advocate one guy whose name rhymes with Tekera) and probably a first round pick. Time and time and time again I hear Brad Boyes’ name brought up as the optimal winger to trade, specifically by a certain afternoon radio show host. If he’s not calling for Boyes to be traded, he’s at least commenting with relief that Boyes’ contract is up this year and the Sabres can let him walk. Meanwhile that host’s partner will describe Stafford with words that include “captain material,” “an edge,” and “huge potential.”

I don’t get it. These two players are only discernible by two things: Boyes is four years older and Stafford was drafted by the Sabres. Other than that, they’re statistically similar.

Let’s play a game. Guess which player I’m thinking of based on the following description. This guy has a $4 million cap hit, plays right wing, is over 6′ tall and weighs close to 200 lbs, doesn’t hit, was a plus-13 last season, and drew criticism from fans for the numbers he put up in the post-season. He also shoots right-handed and was drafted in the first round.

When I talk about scoring more power play points, I’m talking about Drew Stafford.

When I talk about being able to play center in a pinch, I’m talking about Bray Boyes.

Otherwise these two players are so incredibly similar I really have a hard time understanding the “Trade Boyes, Lock Up Stafford” position. Yes, I get it, Stafford is younger and has more potential upside. Yes, I understand that Boyes misses the net almost as much as Jason Pominville. And yes, I understand that Boyes’ production dropped off sharply when he was moved to center. I can only wonder how many points Drew would put up if he were moved to the middle of the ice.

Maybe my cynicism of the Stafford praise comes from the fact that he’s had exactly one really good year. Drew’s 31 goal, 52 point campaign marks the first time he has ever scored more than 20 goals. He has, in fact, only scored 20 or more goals two times in his five season, 317 game career as a Buffalo Sabre. He’s got seven whole whopping points in 20 career playoff games.

Compare this to Boyes’ six NHL seasons, where he has broken the 20 goal barrier three times. One of those years he scored 33 goals (aka two more than Stafford’s highest total) and on one occasion scored 43 (more than Drew scored from October 2008 to May 2010). Boyes’ production dropped sharply in St. Louis during seasons where the Blues were bottom-dwellers in the league for goals scored.

I called in to the above mentioned radio show once, and I pointed out that if we’re going to call Drew Stafford a 30 goal scorer we must fairly refer to Brad Boyes as a 40 goal scorer. They hung up.

I guess my point is that these guys are so incredibly similar, and I am having a hard time wrapping my head around why one is some cornerstone of the franchise while the other might as well have his bags packed. How about we as Sabres fans give both of them a chance to make their case this year, now that the Sabres can start fresh with two healthy centers (here’s hoping Leino can play as a true center). Especially when you consider that Jason Pominville is still not 100% from his playoff injury.

 

Chances are Pominville is going to be third on the depth chart (if he even plays) while he recovers. This most likely lands “power forward” (who doesn’t check) Stafford as the top line right wing, playing with “playmaker” Roy and “sniper” Vanek. Then you place “sniper” Brad Boyes with “power forward” Leino and “playmaker” Ennis. Those are two well-balanced lines that could potentially put a lot of pucks in the net, and it should give a good idea how these two compare over the season. Come trade deadline, Darcy Regier can take a good hard look at who should be moved.

If you’re talking about going and getting an elite center, I’m betting that Stafford is probably better trade bait for that. Boyes’ age of 29 is all the more reason why they should lock him in and keep him, whereas Drew’s marketability is in his “potential” and “upside.” If you think about it, Boyes is only 29 years old…he’s got one year on Pominville and Roy, two years on Vanek. He’s not exactly a silverback.

So there’s my layout. There’s my case for why these two guys are almost the same player, and why I don’t understand the knee-jerk reaction of “well we can just trade Brad Boyes.” Maybe I’ve got some bias against Drew Stafford because he laid a couple of eggs until his contract year. Maybe I just hate when the reason for loving a guy is what scouting reports said about him in 2004. Or maybe I am already looking past Stafford, thinking that the true youth and cornerstones for the next generation Sabres lie in Gerbe, Ennis, Myers, and Enroth. Whatever the case, unless there’s a team that is absolutely begging for Brad Boyes, I definitely see Stafford as the better option for snagging that center and making this a championship-quality team.

 

 

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Tags: Brad Boyes Buffalo Buffalo Sabres Darcy Regier Derek Roy Drew Stafford Eastern Conference Fansided Free Agency Hockey Jason Pominville Jhonas Enroth Nathan Gerbe NHL Sabres St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Stanley Cup Playoffs Terry Pegula Thomas Vanek Trade Trade Deadline Tyler Ennis Tyler Myers

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