Stafford and MacArthur Deserve a Chance

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...

Age GP G A PTS Plus/minus ESG PPG SHG TOI/Game
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
Total 184 49 61 110 11 36 13 0
Age GP G A PTS Plus/minus ESG PPG SHG TOI/Game
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
Total 127 28 25 53 3 23 5 0
Age GP G A PTS Plus/minus ESG PPG SHG TOI/Game
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
Total 107 20 19 39 -5 9 11 0

 

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.

 

Age GP G A PTS Plus/minus ESG PPG SHG TOI/Game
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
Total 242 84 99 183 -21 52 32 0
Age GP G A PTS Plus/minus ESG PPG SHG TOI/Game
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
Total 208 88 137 225 -2 54 34 0

 

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.

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