Over the last couple of weeks Drew Stafford and Clarke MacArthur have been in the spotlight because of their free agency status. MacArthur signed a one year contract last week and Drew Stafford remains unsigned at this point. I'm confident that the Sabres will work out a deal and Stafford will be a member of the Sabres next season.
This post came about because of the comments that people have been making about both players. There has been a negative sentiment for both players and especially for MacArthur even after he signed a cap-friendly $1.4 million contract.
My goal is to try to convince why both players deserve an opportunity to stay with the Sabres and why letting them leave would be a huge mistake. Both players are still very young in their development and are not even close to reaching their potential.
Everyone in Buffalo is always talking about the two players that management let get away. Yes, I'm bringing up Chris Drury and Danny Briere. It's difficult to compare anyone to Drury because he has been a steady player since he joined the league in 1998. Drury scored at least 20 goals in every season of his career with the exception of 03-04 when he scored 18 in his first season with the Sabres.
With Drury out of the equation that leaves Briere and bot players match up well with Briere early in his career. Stafford and MacArthur are both entering their fourth professional season, the same season that Briere broke out as a goal scorer in the NHL.
Here is a look at Stafford, MacArthur and Briere in their first three professional seasons...
|2006 - Drew Stafford||21||41||13||14||27||5||10||3||0||13:08|
|2007 - Drew Stafford||22||64||16||22||38||3||15||1||0||13:32|
|2008 - Drew Stafford||23||79||20||25||45||3||11||9||0||15:38|
|2006 - Clarke MacArthur||21||19||3||4||7||4||3||0||0||8:54|
|2007 - Clarke MacArthur||22||37||8||7||15||3||8||0||0||14:34|
|2008 - Clarke MacArthur||23||71||17||14||31||-4||12||5||0||13:50|
|1998 - Danny Briere||21||64||8||14||22||-3||6||2||0||11:13|
|1999 - Danny Briere||22||13||1||1||2||E||1||0||0||7:41|
|2000 - Danny Briere||23||30||11||4||15||-2||2||9||0||10:50|
As I mentioned above, it was at age 24 that the career of Danny Briere started to take off. He scored 32 goals in 2001 and he was eventually traded to the Sabres in 2003. He didn't become a superstar player for a couple of years after that. I have broken up his career in three year segments for you to see.
|2001 - Danny Briere||24||78||32||28||60||6||20||12||0||15:44|
|2002 - Danny Briere||25||82||24||34||58||-20||15||9||0||17:10|
|2003 - Danny Briere||26||82||28||37||65||-7||17||11||0||18:20|
|2005 - Danny Briere||28||48||25||33||58||3||14||11||0||19:04|
|2006 - Danny Briere||29||81||32||63||95||17||23||9||0||19:19|
|2007 - Danny Briere||30||79||31||41||72||-22||17||14||0||18:52|
The numbers increased considerably in years 4-6 for Briere and remained relatively steady throughout his career. It took three seasons for Briere to adjust to life as a professional hockey player before he really hit his stride. Since breaking through as a 24 year-old, Briere has consistently been a great offensive player with Buffalo and Philadelphia. This past season was a forgettable one for him because injuries kept him out of the lineup most of the year.
I can't say that Stafford or MacArthur will ever become the same offensive threat that Briere became. I can say that they both are young and have the potential to become great players in the NHL. It would be a mistake to give up on either player at this point in their careers. There are some players that make an immediate impact in the league but their are also plenty of guys that follow the same career path as Briere.