As we wait to determine whether or not the Buffalo Sabres will enter a full scale rebuild, we’ve already heard a couple of big names float out there as trade possibilities for the club. The two big ones are obviously Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek, each of which will see their contract expire at the end of next season.
But trade rumors are not limited to just those two. There’s another forward whose contract isn’t up in Buffalo, but he may have wore out his welcome after a disappointing season. That forward is Drew Stafford, whose name has been seen out on the rumor circuit a pretty good deal lately.
Stafford has two years remaining on a contract that carries a $4 million cap hit. Although he’s coming off of a disappointing season, the Sabres may want to take advantage of the thin free agent class and get what they can for the veteran forward. There are teams out there that would be willing to take him on, even with the salary cap coming down.
After two consecutive seasons of at least 50 points, albeit in full seasons, Stafford came out of 2013 with only 18 to his name. That included just six goals, after posting over 50 combined in the two seasons prior. Short season or not, it was an unexpected decline and a disappointment.
There is still plenty of value in a player like Stafford, though. He’s a player that can play down around the net and give that net front presence that is coveted throughout the league. He’s a veteran leader, and it’d be hard to imagine his goal totals will be so low again in the next couple of years.
Moving Stafford makes sense for the Sabres, if they’re going to enter a rebuild. They can get a couple of young players or a draft pick for him. There have also been whispers of a potential swap for Ales Hemsky, which would be good move for both parties. Regardless, if the Sabres do make Stafford available, it’d be a surprise to see him back with the club next season.