Apr 26, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Drew Stafford (21) during the game against the New York Islanders at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Is Drew Stafford In The Long Term Plans For The Buffalo Sabres?

Is there a more inconsistent hockey player than Drew Stafford? A top line player on some nights and an AHL player on most, Stafford has upset Sabres fans over the years. After an extremely disappointing 2012-13 season, it really makes you wonder if Stafford is part of the long term plan for the Sabres. After taking a look at his numbers and examining his play over the years, I will tell you why Stafford is not part of the Sabres long term plans.

It is extremely hard to predict how Stafford will perform in the upcoming season. Stafford’s numbers have been all over the board during his 7 seasons in Buffalo. In three of these seasons he has recorded one 30 goal season and two 20 plus goal seasons, where in his other four seasons, Stafford has recorded well under 20 goals. His streaky play really doesn’t help his case to be a long term solution for the Sabres. Stafford must prove to management that he can be a consistent and reliable player on a night to night basis because the time is running out.

Another factor working against Stafford’s future with the Sabres is his 4 million dollar salary. When your third highest paid forward records a mere 18 points in 46 games and is a dismal minus 16, there is something wrong. Stafford’s line for the better part of last season was awful going a combined minus 34, and rarely chipping in offensively. Stafford must find the fire power he had during the second half of the 2011-12 season, instead of disappearing for numerous games and being stuck on never ending scoring droughts. Whatever the problem is with Stafford, Ron Rolston must help find answers in reviving Stafford’s game, or else Stafford could be in for another long season and his career with the Sabres could be in jeopardy.

Although I am not overly optimistic that Stafford will have a bounce back season, there is definitely positives that can come out of it if he does. The more and more Stafford produces, his trade value will increase substantially. If Regier can pull the trigger on a deal when Stafford is on a hot streak, he may be able to get a decent return for the former 1st rounder. Not only will Stafford’s value increase with improved play, it may help the Sabres improve their position in the standings.

It is a mystery on how Stafford will perform in the upcoming season. Regardless of how he performs, management has some options when it comes to Stafford. If Stafford can live up to his contract, than Regier can ship him away and potentially get a decent return or Regier may even elect to keep him. If Stafford struggles continue during the season, management may even consider buying out the forward. Whatever happens with Stafford is yet to be seen, but it would make the most sense to part ways with him. We have seen the good, the bad and most often the ugly from Stafford, and I believe his time is coming to an end with the Buffalo Sabres.

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Drew Stafford NHL

  • chas territo

    A resounding, NO! He is an over paid, lazy and scared player! We have more like him that are on our team! How a man playing a game can not show up is too infuriating! He is here because of our chicken shit GM, with his overvaluing of our players. He can’t trade him because of the things I’ve said here. Our team needs somebody to bust his chops as well as some of the others like him! That will not happen cuz we have a team, top to bottom of enablers!! Just cut his lazy ass, now!

    • chas territo

      Sorry about my comment if any find it disturbing, but the truth is I am very disappointed and pissed off! Will not apologize for those two things. Maybe things will change, but as long as DR is GM, the same old shit, just a different day, too bad for us, the fans!

  • jackinthebuf

    I don’t think anyone will disagree that Stafford is tremendously inconsistent on a game-to-game basis, but in terms of full season production, we pretty much know what to expect from him. He is a 20 goal guy.

    You mention that in 4 of his 7 seasons, Stafford fell “well short” of the 20 goal mark, but that doesn’t tell the full story. In 2006-07 for example: While true that Stafford finished with just 13 goals, he also only played in 41 games as he was just breaking into the league that season. I think it’s fair to assume that had he played all 82, he likely would have eclipsed that 20 goal plateau.

    The same can be said for 2007-08, when he scored 16 goals in 64 games. I’m not going to go back and look up why he missed those 18 games, whether it be injury or healthy scratch or what have you, but it’s not unrealistic to think he scores three or four more goals if he played a full season.

    I realize it’s not really fair to hand out freebie “what if” points, but in my opinion, he’s had three seasons that strayed from the 20 goal expectations: 2009-10 when he scored 14 in 71 games, 2012-13 when he scored just 6 in 46 games, and of course 2010-11 when he scored 31 in 62 games.

    While I will be the first to admit that he can be a frustrating player to watch, especially having seen flashes of brilliance along the way, sometimes I think that Stafford is getting the “Tim Connolly treatment” by the fans — ie, the new whipping boy. Two things to remember: 1.) It’s not his fault that he scored a $4m/yr contract after his 30 goal season, and 2.) It’s not Darcy Regier’s fault for giving Drew said $4m/yr contract after his 30 goal season.

    His contract is a tough pill to swallow for a 20 goal scorer, but you can’t really blame Darcy for paying him. If we sign him and he disappoints and never scores 30 again, everyone complains and calls for Darcy’s head. If we don’t sign him, and he goes elsewhere and scores 30 per year flanking an elite #1 center like Tavares, everyone complains and calls for Darcy’s head. Lose/lose for a GM.

    Anyway, I don’t really have a main point to my comment just thought I’d post some thoughts. I’m not trying to defend Stafford by any means but I think fans would be less disappointed if they looked at him for what he is on his own merits: a 20 goal scorer, instead of for what he is not. Of course, with a legitimate upper-class #1 center, 30 is not out of the realm of possibility. I doubt it happens in Buffalo.

    I also think that with the new CBA allowing teams to withhold salary in a trade, combined with the current state of the Sabres which would allow for such moves to be made financially (not desperate for cap space), Stafford can be a pretty valuable piece and fetch a decent return in a trade if Buffalo is willing to take on 50% of his salary (the max allowed). What team doesn’t want a 20 goal scorer, maybe 25-30 with an elite center, for $2 mil?

    Before the Bobby Ryan trade I had proposed a deal involving Stafford as a throw-in piece at 50% discount. I have no doubt he could reach 30 again playing with Getzlaf.

  • Jes

    I remember back when Stafford was a RFA and everyone was like we better sign this guy long term. And I was one of maybe 3 people that said we should not resign him. And I got beaked so heavily for it. And once he was resigned the praise for Regier trembled in from everyone but me and the other 2 people. All I really gotta say is TOLD YA SO!!

    Back to Stafford anyways I doubt there will be any takers for Stafford. Buyout seems like the only way to go. I wouldn’t even keep him if he scores 30 this year. Just get this team on the right track, get him out of here.

  • qwicwted

    Jes and Jack are right – everyone wanted Stafford signed long term. It is what it is and I always think of Stafford along the lines of Penner. Most frustrating thing about Stafford is that we have seen his potential and what he can do – he’s just not consistent and we hear everything from Hot Yoga to Fu Man Drew. Last year Drew was finally benched for a few games and when he came back his play was more involved – physically and it seemed he was finally going into the dirty places. Stafford is a big boy and he should use his strength and size to pick up the garbage thrown at the net. I liked Stafford’s play the tail end of the season and I would like to see more of the same. We all know his value is next to nil, so it is in everyone’s best interest that he be successful this year. Hopefully he’ll step it up.

  • davidmuscalo

    Stafford’s problem is that he is a dilettante; the NHL is his hobby. He has little or not self respect and lacks work ethic. His idea for getting is shape is doing hot yoga! The one quality that he has that I admire is his ability to make a horse’s ass out of Regier. Unfortunately, we fans have to suffer for Regier’s inabilitiy to judge character.

    • qwicwted

      David – you forget, fans and media alike wanted Stafford signed to a long term deal. I think most of us were “fooled” by Drew. Drew wants to be an entertainer – so hopefully he up his game so we can “fool” some other team.

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  • Kevin R Michaels

    What no one has mentioned is that when this guy scored 31 goals, most of those came in a handful of games when he scored 2 or 3 goals a game. Other than those few games, the guy was absent once again as is his style. Darcy saw 31 goals and wet his pants thinking that Stafford was a real goal scorer. He needs to get hot and then dealt otherwise what we have seen most of the time is what we will get from this guy.