Friday, January 14, 2011

The Drew Stafford Question

This morning on WGR during Mike Robitaille's segment, Drew Stafford and his expiring contract became a rather lengthy topic of discussion.  The consensus seemed to be that, yes, Stafford should be resigned.

That's something I absolutely agree with.  Stafford has looked downright physically dominant at times, and in a much more consistent fashion than the Drew Stafford of last year who had to be benched every so often just to extract a decent game out of him.  He has scored the second-most goals, and has the highest rate of goals per game, on a team that doesn't score many of them (as of this writing, the Sabres sit 20th in the league with 2.65 goals per game).  Unless they want to join New Jersey in the goal-scoring basement, I don't think that's something the Sabres can afford to just walk away from.

But the problem with Stafford has always been consistency.  There's a good chance that this is the year that Stafford has finally figured it all out;  there's an equally good chance, though, that he's got a wicked case of contractyearitis.  

So the real question surrounding Stafford is not "if", but "how much?" and "how long"? 

If he's going to be a bonafide consistent 30-40 goal scorer, a Jason Pominville-esque five-year deal with a $5 or $6 million cap hit doesn't seem ridiculous.  If this year is an elaborate ruse and he's still the same Stafford that gets distracted by furry conventions and plays too much Guitar Hero, a Tim Connolly-style 2 years, $9 million seems like a safer bet.  (Not that there's anything wrong with Guitar Hero, says the addict.)  The last thing this team needs is another bad contract on a team full of guys not living up to their own contracts (one could argue that Pominville, Thomas Vanek, and Jochen Hecht may or may not fall into this category).

The scary part is that I have absolutely no idea which Drew Stafford is the real one.  And as such, I have no idea what he's truly worth.  I hope Darcy Regier has a much better sense of this than I do.

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