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.