2013-14 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards: Drew Stafford
The Buffalo Sabres 2013-14 season was one of the worst in franchise history, and now it's time to take a look at who made it all possible. We're grading everybody who played at least 20(ish) games for the Sabres this year, from Conacher to Weber.
Contract: Signed through 2014-2015 at $4 million
Report Card Grade in 2013: F (link here)
Introduction: After all of the trades the Sabres have made over the past few seasons, Stafford is now among the longest tenured Sabres left on the team. He had an incredibly disappointing 2012-2013 season, in which he scored only six goals. This year he had a solid bounce back effort, especially after Ted Nolan became the team's head coach.
With the lack of talented forwards on the roster, Stafford returned to the top six and played with some of the top linemates the Sabres could offer. Only Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson had higher quality of teammates than Stafford this season.
Key Stat: Stafford's 1,034 minutes of ice time made him the third most frequently used Sabres forward behind Tyler Ennis and Cody Hodgson. He averaged 18.4 minutes a game, almost a two minute increase from last season.
Thumbs Up: Stafford was one of the Sabres that benefited the most from the addition of Nolan. The start of the season looked similar to last year for Stafford, who had two goals and four assists through 20 games. His play didn't change right away, but he became one of the team's most productive forwards late in the season. He scored the other 14 goals in the final 35 games of the season.
Stafford had a much stronger shooting percentage this season as opposed to last, up from 5% to 8.6%. He took less shots this season than last, but made the most of his opportunities and still finished top five on the team in shots per game.
Thumbs Down: Anyone who has watched Stafford the past few seasons knows that he is streaky player. They've seen this before, Stafford heating up only to return to a dormant nature for a long time afterwards. The only difference this season is that this was not a contract year for him.
His fancy stats aren't that thrilling, around the middle of the team in Corsi percentage and towards the bottom in Fenwick. It is worth noting that he faced the third toughest quality of competition on the team.
Memorable Moment: Stafford celebrated his 500th NHL game by scoring this nifty goal against the Nashville Predators.
Voting: We're grading on a curve this year, adjusting for the Sabres organizational ineptitude. So, using the good old grade school system of A, B, C, D, F, with A representing a great season (for the Sabres) C an average season, and F a very poor season (again, for the worst team in the league) grade John Scott on his performance this year.
Based on his play this season, how would you grade Drew Stafford?