Apr. 14, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Drew Stafford (21) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas (75) collide during the second period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres Preseason: The Drew Snafu

Buffalo Sabres fans!

Allow me to start today’s discussion with this little tidbit: it took me a good 3-4 minutes before I could think of a clever word that rhymed with Drew in a satisfying and unique way.  I’m not trying to brag; I’m just pointing out the lengths that I will go to in order to keep you entertained!

“Are you not entertained?”

Sorry ’bout that, but I love a good movie quotation!

Anyway: with the Sabres’ preseason officially in the books, and the regular season just days away, the Buffalo Sabres do, indeed, have a bit of a snafu on their hands.

The cause of this sticky situation?  Drew Stafford.

Gosh, I sure do love to dance!
Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres have finalized their opening day roster, and last I checked, Drew Stafford was STILL playing for the team.  Let me head over to Sabres.com just to make sure . . . yep!  He’s still on there.

And therein lies the snafu to which I keep alluding: if the current Drew Stafford is anything like the Drew Stafford who “played” hockey for the Sabres last season, no one in the 716 is going to want him to eat up a roster spot for a full season.  The problem is, Buffalo won’t be able to move the guy if he repeats last year’s performance – what’s the trade value on a $4 mil a year player who would have been lucky to score 11 goals had last year been a full season?   A hill of beans?  A stack of used VHS tapes?  Ilya Bryzgalov?

If Buffalo wants to trade Stafford, then, they would have to put him on the first line and see what he could produce with Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson as his linemates . . . but if he responded to such a move by going nuts and reclaiming the game he flashed during his best seasons (back-to-back 50 point seasons between 2010-2012), would that force the Sabres to consider keeping him, since that would give the team a first line with potential 80, 60, and 50 points per year scorers?  Or would the Sabres still try and trade him, hoping that the rest of the NHL didn’t notice the Sabres’ deliberate attempt to pad Stafford’s resume?

(It should be noted that this is exactly what the Vancouver Canucks did when they wanted to ship Cody Hodgson out of town, and in all fairness, it has worked out well for both parties, with Buffalo getting the better end of the deal to date.)

If the Sabres want to crash the playoff party, they could really use 40+ points from Stafford, since his lack of production, coupled with Tyler Ennis‘ inability to D-up, is what urned the second line into a black hole that surrendered leads and momentum to opposing teams last year.  (Remember: Ennis was -14 for the season, second-worst behind Stafford’s -16.)   If they don’t foresee the playoffs becoming a reality next season, the Sabres would be wise to shop him, but until his numbers make the team a legitimate playoff contender . . . AHHHHHHH.

My head kind of just exploded there.  Sorry.

It’s a conundrum, this Drew Stafford situation is, and I won’t pretend to act as if I have all of the answers.  I suppose I should be patient and see if his newly-discovered maturity results in some more consistent game play – Tyler Myers seems to be on the verge of turning things around, so who says Stafford cannot, as well?   I’m actually in favor of Stafford starting the season on the first line, and seeing what he can accomplish with Vanek and Hodgson.  The first line came out of the gates pretty hot last season with Pominville on the right wing, so maybe Stafford can fill that void.  My patience isn’t infinite, however, so Mr. Stafford is going to have to show me that he is ready to put up or ship out.

Unless, of course, he doesn’t put up, in which case there is no shipping him to be had.

Ah, nuts – just start the season already, will ya?!?


Tags: Buffalo Sabres Drew Stafford Preseason

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