When Drew Stafford first put on a Winnipeg Jets jersey he was absolutely red hot with a unusually high shooting percentage where virtually every shot he took wound up in the net. This streak netted him a two year contact with the club. The signing was a hotly contested decision throughout the summer with fans since it seems as if the team was left with a choice of either re-signing Michael Frolik or Drew Stafford. The former being a proven, consistent player, beloved by all. Stafford was not only signed for a shorter amount of time, but at a slightly higher cost. Once we saw a full year with Stafford we saw some good and some bad in his play.
When the 2015-2016 season opened, he seemed to have started right where he left off while spending much of his time during the season in the top six of the lineup and put up some good numbers. But soon fans saw the streaky style of Stafford's play that Sabres fans had come to know for so many years.
After scoring seven points in the first ten games in October, November saw him drop to merely four points, and then eight in December. Another strange phenomenon was that out of the total thirty-eight points that Stafford put up for the Jets this season, only eleven of them came on the road. The remaining twenty-seven came at the MTS Centre. Now that is a whole new level of streaky play right there. Stafford placed third on the entire team in goals with twenty-one. Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele were the only two players ahead of him.
I feel that Drew Stafford throughout the season was a divisive player. Personally, I am more than satisfied with what I saw from him. The big gripe was how inconsistent he was putting up points and at his age, it is highly unlikely that will change next year and for the foreseeable future. Out of all the players in the Jets top six he is the weakest link. I'm sorry if that sounds a bit harsh.
With Kyle Connor now being inked to an entry level contract, and Michigan head coach Red Berenson flat out saying that Connor is best suited playing either top six minutes or no minutes at all at the NHL level, this will push Stafford down to the third line; which will be better for both himself and the Jets. With that being said, the Jets' management have alluded to even going younger next season and a handful of players clawing to get onto the team next year tells me that he could end up being a trade piece during the draft in a packaged deal or for some picks. Whether we see him get shipped off during the off season or if he does in fact finish his contract in Winnipeg, despite his flaws, Stafford has so far played his part perfectly. A stop-gap player bidding his time until the youth movement arrives.