Justin K. Aller
The Sabres number three goal scoring threat hasn't just been cold, he's been at Absolute Zero to start the season.
The two month hot streak that the Sabres finished on last season was fueled in large part by the phenomenal, and to be honest, unsustainable, pace set by the line of Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis, and Marcus Foligno. This season, while the line has yet to return to form, at least they're getting mild, if underwhelming, production from Ennis and Foligno.
The team has gotten absolutely nothing, however, from Drew Stafford.
Stafford has yet to score a single goal through 14 games, despite taking 40 shots and playing over 18:00 per game. For a guy who's expected to chip in at minimum 20 goals in a full season, he's on pace for, well, zero, and his lack of production is one of many reasons why the Sabres are not currently a good hockey team.
Before we break out the extreme vitriol, let me temper this article with a few positives. Stafford has been noticeable in his physical game, currently fourth among forwards with 17 hits, can be seen backchecking harder and more frequently this year than in the past, and has been used sparingly on the penalty kill. He's also playing against the toughest quality of competition out of all Sabres forwards by a fairly healthy margin, which is certainly something to take into account when mulling over his awful start.
Now, the negative. Stafford is currently a -6, tied for second worst on the team. He leads the Sabres in giveaways, and has been part of an ineffectual power play. Oh, and his shooting percentage is 0.0% because he still has no goals. For a guy who's counted on to be arguably the #3 offensive threat on the whole team, not to mention someone who wears a letter on his sweater, Stafford's production thus far is incredibly disappointing, to say the least.
Stafford's always been a streaky player, and I have no doubt he'll have a Vanek-ian stretch of games where he scores nine goals in ten games or something like that, but until that happens, he's simply taking up space on the second line.