BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 24: Brian Boucher #33 of the Philadelphia Flyers stops Drew Stafford #21 of the Buffalo Sabres in the third period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HSBC Arena at HSBC Arena on April 24, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
|2010 - Drew Stafford||31||21||52||13||34|
31 goals and 52 points were career highs for Drew Stafford last season and in return for such a fantastic season, Stafford was rewarded with a brand new four year, $16 million contract. Stafford was a point leader for the team last year, one goal behind Thomas Vanek and a key reason why the Sabres made a second half comeback last season. Can Stafford continue the momentum though for next season?
It would seem that there are a handful of things working against Stafford scoring 31 goals again this season. To start, Stafford's career high before heading into this season was 20 goals, which happened to come in another contract year. In Stafford's other three seasons, he has scored 13, 16, and 14 goals. If Stafford regressed back to his career averages, it would mean that he would score 25 goals which would still be acceptable for this team.
Stafford's shooting percentage last season was 17.3% on a total of 179 shots. Stafford has only converted on more shots once in his career, his rookie season where he had a shooting percentage of 19.3% on 67 shots. As Stafford gets more first and second line work, he will continue to get close to 200 shots but it would be hard to believe that he could convert anywhere near 15% of his shots.
The last point to make is that now that Stafford has converted his great season last year into a new contract, is there another motivation that would work for Stafford. While it seems cold to say that a player's only motivation is money, it can be a big motivating factor. Stafford's last contract year was in 2008-09 where he scored 20 goals and 45 points. During that offseason, Stafford received a two year $3.8 million contract. The next season, Stafford's production dipped to 14 goals and 34 points.
While Drew Stafford was relied upon to be a key scorer for the Sabres offense last season, with the new pieces that were added in the offseason, a production dip will hopefully not be as detrimental as it would have been last season.