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Does Drew Stafford Stay With Vanek & Roy?


Drew Stafford is, hands down, the Sabres most maligned player on the roster. He’s got the tools to be a gifted power forward, and yet he’s seemingly coasting game in and game out. Lindy Ruff seems content to keep giving the man top-six minutes, with the exception of a rare fourth-line shift or a one-game benching. Going into this season, many a fan is curious how much longer Stafford will remain with Vanek and Roy.

Drew Stafford is young (24) and fairly big (6’1″, 216lbs) with the hands of a scorer and the strength of an angry bull elephant. He’s scored goals of pure beauty and brute strength alike. His one knock is that he seems to take games off. Not just one, but two…three…five…seven games at a time.

Since he got called up from Rochester in 2006/2007 to fill in the open roster spot left by an injured Maxim Afinogenov, his linemates have been Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy for 99% of his shifts. I, for one, expect this trend to continue.

There are seven players on the Sabres roster with top-six talent – Vanek, Roy, Stafford, Hecht, Connolly, Pominville, and Ennis. As I’ve previously posted, the ideal set-up for Tyler Ennis and his linemates is Ennis-Connolly-Pominville. That leaves Vanek-Roy-Stafford intact.

This is the biggest year of Stafford’s young career. He’s making $2.3M, his deal has a cap hit of $1.9M, and he’ll be an RFA after his contract expires. If he finally puts it all together, he can be the missing cog on the top line and truly power he and his linemates to victory night in and night out. It’s just a matter of effort.

He puts in the effort and he gets a shiny new deal to go along with career highs in stats. He doesn’t and he’ll most likely be packing his bags to play elsewhere. Regardless, my bet is on him playing with Vanek and Roy in 2010/2011.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. greenteapain permalink
    09/10/10 11:56 AM

    I agree that Ennis-Connolly-Pominville + Vanek-Roy-Stafford are the likely line combos. I also think its possible to say that these aren’t lines “1” and “2”, but rather lines “1a” and “1b”. There’s no reason in my mind, at least to start the season, that either of these lines deserve more ice time than the other.

    Also, Stafford is another Sabre with ‘Derek Roy Syndrome’ (and no I’m not talking about getting felt up by dudes on the Chippewa sidewalk) meaning: lots of talent, inconsistent effort and bad attitude. It’s just REALLY obvious with Stafford when he’s mailing it in, because he has the ability to dominate games – maybe it’s a confidence issue?

    • 09/10/10 12:20 PM

      I’m of the same mind re: referring to the top two lines as 1A and 1B.

      Also, I don’t agree with comparing Roy and Stafford. Roy is a player who consistently puts up 70+ points, whereas Stafford struggles to hit half that. I think the difference is Roy is small but can play big, while Stafford is big but doesn’t play like it.

      • tepposghost permalink
        09/10/10 12:56 PM

        I should have phrased my comparison differently: Roy certainly performs better, but he still has attitude issues (not nearly as noticeable last season).

        I just think that certain Sabres enter into a “funk”, where they end up not performing well, lose confidence and take forever to recover.

        I know this happens to a lot of NHLers, but it seems inevitable with some Sabres.

      • 09/10/10 1:14 PM

        I think Vanek is a more apt comparison to Stafford in any case, in regards to going into a funk. But either way, I know what you mean.


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