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.