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Pilot's Logbook: Drew Stafford

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As the off-season starts up, we review the play of all the Jets players; next up is potential Free Agent Drew Stafford.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Performance:

Drew Stafford came to the Winnipeg Jets as a part of massive Evander Kane trade and although he scored a lot of goals, the lines he played on were usually out-shot and out-chanced while getting favourable offensive zone starts. This is a problem for the Jets who, like most NHL teams, need two lines to be capable of starting in the defensive zone and to do this the Jets needed to have Stafford playing alongside Mark Scheifele, which meant that the line was less effective at getting and retaining the puck than when Mathieu Perreault was on Scheifele's flank.

This is not a new issue with Stafford. On the terrible Buffalo Sabres, Stafford still struggled to be better than his teammates when it came to possession. This means that Stafford's play has been largely unchanged going from a terrible team to a legitimately good team. The one part that could be an issue is that it can take players going from a god-awful team to a good team a while to wash the stink off, but that did not seem to be the case with Stafford. He played well and fit in fine; his biggest problem is he is simply not a possession driver.

As the chart shows, Stafford is fine at generating scoring and is even pretty good at shot generation, but when you dig just a bit deeper, the flaws of Stafford start to show. He fourth line levels of Corsi against suggest that Stafford is a player who gets caught in the defensive zone for long periods of time. And these stats are not skewed by his time with the Sabres. Below is a chart of Stafford's time with the Jets.

Stafford's on-ice shooting percentage was high, while is scoring chances relative to the team was low and his possession abilities were not helping the Jets in that department. On a team that is bringing along two young centres, it is imperative that the younger players are surrounded by players who do the little things that help the team win more than just scoring goals. Goal scoring is important, but if a player can only do that and seems to go on percentage fuelled runs, teams should be wary of investing in the player.

Future:

The Winnipeg Jets would be smart to let some other team sign Stafford for too much money and or term on July 1. Although Stafford scored some big goals for the Jets down the stretch, they would be better off on focussing on versatile forward Michael Frolik and aging, but effective Lee Stempniak over Stafford. While Stafford is more tantalizing than the two reliable wingers, Stafford is older than Frolik and will certainly cost more than Stempniak. Investing in the right players is important for any team and Stafford is a player the player that is most likely to decline out of the three. Instead of entering into a potential contract albatross, the Jets should let some other team do that.