There's Still Hope For Drew Stafford Next Season

Justin K. Aller

Drew Stafford recently made headlines for his marriage and the subsequent maturity he showed on the team's Facebook page. However, a closer look at last season's poor performance indicates that more than just the emotional maturity of marriage could help turn his season around next year.

Drew Stafford got married this weekend - congrats by the way, if you're reading this, Drew. Normally, we wouldn't cover that type of TMZ story here, but Stafford made some waves by responding in a very mature and humble way to a litany of typically awful commenst on the Sabres congratulatory Facebook post regarding his recent nuptials.

Check out Stafford's response to the dozens of people who responded to the team's post with inappropriate, inflammatory comments:

Stafford_medium

It was the perfect way for Stafford to respond, and plenty of others took notice, rightfully so. It represented the hope that Stafford is maturing from the player who's best remembered for his love of furries and odd exercise routines into a better professional, and the hope that he'll translate that maturity in to a better on ice performance from last season.

But rather than simply psychoanalyze Drew's new outlook on life, let's take a look at one important stat that might offer that same hope that #21 will turn things around next year.

Shot percentage is a very simple stat - it divides a player's total number of shots by goals scored. It can help determine a player who benefits from good luck - as Marcus Foligno did in his 2012 campaign where he scored a goal on one of every four shots, an incredible rate that would impossible for any player to sustain.

Shot percentage can also tell us who had a run of bad luck in their offensive game - as Drew Stafford and his abysmally low 5% had last season. The astonishing thing about this number is that Stafford actually led the team in shots last season with 121. The fact that a proven (yes, proven) goal scorer like Stafford only scored on one out of every 20 shots could be a number of factors - hitting more posts than usual, a few bounces that went the wrong way, or some lucky saves that weren't made in seasons past.

In other words, bad luck.

Stafford's career shooting percentage is over double what it was last season - 11.3% - thus suggesting a regression towards the mean in shot percentage next year. If you would have applied Stafford's usual percentage of 11.3% to his 121 shots last season, he would have scored 11 goals, good for third best on the team. If Stafford can return to his career average, he'll start earning back the trust of Sabres fans, as well as his $4 million contract again.

A good showing off the ice is a positive start for next season, but Sabres fans looking for Stafford to turn his game around should put more of their hope in mathematics rather than matrimony.

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