All right, let’s jump right back into things.
The last time we really talked, Corey and I recorded a podcast in which we looked back on the Sabres postseason and what might be next for the team as free agency approaches. If you missed it, check it out here.
At the time, we pretty much agreed that Stafford might not be worth the money it would take to re-sign him. The Sabres have a lot of money tied up in their wingers and Stafford didn’t show quite enough consistency to warrant the huge contract we anticipated him signing. We even considered a sign-and-trade or take the picks if some other team signed him to an offer sheet.
Then last week, Stafford signed for $16 million over four years. That’s less than we thought he would sign for and it’s possible he took a hometown discount to stay in Buffalo.
He may not be the assassin they need — at least not yet — but he showed some flashes last season that were very positive. There were also stretches where he disappeared (when he wasn’t hurt) but that’s come to be expected. Stafford had a great season and he was rewarded with that contract.
Here are some of the quotes he gave the Buffalo News:
“Obviously, I was very happy with how last year went with the progress and development I made as a player and a person,” Stafford said. “I’m very appreciate of the support [General Manager] Darcy [Regier] and the staff have given me over five years.
“I couldn’t be happier. I see myself continuing to get better and be a part of the future.”
“This is an organization heading in the right direction,” Stafford said. “We have a great chance to bring a championship to Buffalo.”
Stafford kind of sounds like a grown-up who is going to take his career seriously. He sounds like a guy who earned that letter on his chest at the end of the regular season when Thomas Vanek got hurt.
Four million dollars isn’t crazy money for a player who could be a consistent 30-plus goal scorer. I still don’t think he’s completely figured everything out and that could continue to serve as a source of frustration, but despite the potential bumps in the road, the Sabres are probably a better team with Drew Stafford in the lineup. He’s still got room to grow. That’s encouraging.
What they still need is a true No. 1 center or at least someone who can really compliment Derek Roy and a real veteran presence on defense.