Over the next couple of weeks we will have a new feature on Die by the Blade. WE will take a look at the players that will be free agents as of July 1. The restricted free agents will be first and the unrestricted will follow.
- Patrick Kaleta (RFA) - Read Post
- Clarke MacArthur (RFA) - Read Post
- Andrej Sekera (RFA) - Read Post
- Drew Stafford (RFA)
- Max Afinogenov (UFA)
- Dominic Moore (UFA)
- Andrew Peters (UFA)
- Jaro Spacek (UFA)
- Mikael Tellqvist (UFA) - signed with Ak-Bars in KHL.
#21 / Right Wing / Buffalo Sabres
Oct 30, 1985
|2008 - Drew Stafford||79||20||25||45||3||29||9||0||0||2||183||10.9|
Drew Stafford had the best season of his short professional career. He went on a tear about half way through the season and he eventually finished the season with a career high 20 goals.
Stafford established himself as a top six forward this season and spent most of his time playing on the top line with Vanek and Roy. When he wasn't playing with Vanek and Roy he was playing along side Tim Connolly.
Sometimes you here people say "he either has it or he doesn't". Stafford fits into the "he has it" category. Stafford is a natural goal scorer that is almost definitely going to become even better. He seems to find himself in the right spot more often than not and he finds ways to score goals.
Although I'll stop short of calling him a leader he has proven that he is not afraid to stick up for his teammates. Stafford is generally considered an offensive player but he has also dropped the gloves when it was necessary.
This next comparison is going to drive some people crazy and will probably get me berated in the comments but it's a comparison that I feel is fair. Stafford reminds me a lot of a young Chris Drury. Drury benefited by playing along side true leaders like Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg for years and Stafford had an oportunity to play with Drury.
Drury wasn't always the player he became in Buffalo but it was something that he grew into and Stafford could do the same thing. He is a big strong player that has the size to become a dominate player in this league. He also has the capability to play in his own zone which is evident by his plus three rating this season. Plus three is nothing to brag about but it came on a team that had very few plus players.
For all the great qualities that Stafford possesses, he has yet to put it all together for an extended period of time. He seems at is best when he uses his size to his advantage but he doesn't always appear to be willing to lay it al on the line. Until he realizes that he needs to play at top speed all the time he will never be a superstar.
Stafford may have played is way out of Buffalo. If the Sabres don't sign him to a contract before the July 1 deadline he is almost guaranteed to get an offer sheet from some desperate team. Much like the Sabres did wit Steve Bernier last season, they might be forced to move Stafford over the summer unless they can free up some salary. I antcipate that Stafford will earn somewhere in the range of $2.5 -$3 million per season on his next contract.
Darcy Regier will find a way to keep Stafford on the roster unless someone blows him away with an offer. Stafford is a young player that is ikely to get better and the Sabres love to develo their young talent.