I don’t really think this one holds any water, but the first I heard of this rumor was when David Staples of the Edmonton Journal mentioned on his blog Cult of Hockey that a journalist for the Buffalo News was rumor mongering a possible deal between the Oilers and the Sabres. In the Buffalo News article, the reporter cited that an “A source in Edmonton says the Oilers would trade puck-moving defenseman Tom Gilbert in a heartbeat for Drew Stafford, if the Sabres were interested.”
Now right off the bat, that isn’t even what I’d call a trade rumor. It’s more of a case of drooling over someone else’s players. But I’ll humor this idea because it’s possible that the Oilers have been mulling it over and are thinking of giving Regier a jingle, and partially because this rumor gained new legs when it was brought up again by Robin Brownlee today. To be honest, I’m not really sure why it’s still lingering around, however, let’s take a look at how Stafford could possibly help here.
So let’s start with the stats/facts. Drew Stafford is a 23-year old, 6’2″ and 213lb right winger with a right handed shot. His box cars over the past couple of years are:
Regular Season Stats:
2007/08: GP 64, G 16, A 22, P 38, PIMS 51, +3
2008/09: GP 79, G 20, A 25, P 45, PIMS 29, +2
2007/08: 11:33 ES TOI/G and 1:55 PP TOI/G, minimal SH TOI
2008/09: 12:58 ES TOI/G, and 2:37 PP TOI/G, minimal SH TOI
Those numbers are alright, but nothing I would consider spectacular. So what about the scouting report? His assets sound like a typical Quinn guy.
Assets: Owns an impressive size/skill package. Can score goals and also play a physical game from the wing position. Works hard.
Flaws: Must prove he can play a consistent brand of hockey in all three zones. May not become an elite goal-scorer at the highest level.
Career Potential: Top six winger.
Salary wise, Stafford comes in $2.1M/year cap-hit less than Gilbert (however Gilbert is signed for 3 years longer).
So is it worth it? I don’t know about that. I’m not sure about Stafford, to be honest. He’s a former first rounder that did have some decent success in college hockey as well as on Team USA winning a gold medal in the under-18 tournament in 2003. He’s also got ties with the Oilers organization, as he’s the son of long-time equipment manager Barrie Stafford (little random factoid for you folks).
Without a doubt, he would be an upgrade on JFJ or Stone. However, I’m not so sure giving up Gilbert for him would be a wise decision. From what I’ve read out there, it sounds like Sabres fans wouldn’t be happy with this deal either (Gilbert really doesn’t get much respect around the league, it seems – he’s the blue line’s Shawn Horcoff), mainly because of the amount of extra salary they would pick up. It may require the Oilers taking on a bit of cash in return. I’m not sure who the Sabres would be looking to give up in addition, however. Really, I don’t see this deal as going down. It’s wishful thinking on some media members’ parts, I believe.
I will say though that Taylor Chorney has really come into his own since Staios/Souray were hurt. Just one example… I’m not sure how many noticed, but with approximately 2 minutes left in the game against Vancouver, a shot game off the end boards just to Khabibulin’s left. Khabibulin was slow to get over to that side of the net, because he was on his knees. Mason Raymond was there on the doorstep to pick up the puck and ready to jam it in, however Chorney got body position on him, forced his stick down against Raymond, and dove to push the puck away. The puck came back around the front of the net a dozen or more seconds later, and Chorney was there again to fight Raymond off the puck. Little things like this go unnoticed sometimes. Everyone was talking about Smid’s save (which really WAS spectacular), but this also was a key game saver.
It seems like the Oilers have a couple of players waiting in the wings on the blueline now with Chorney and Peckham knocking at the door. So that said, it would seem they can afford to give someone up now, so there is a slight bit of possibility behind this rumor (if I can call it that).
So again, who out there would pull the trigger on this deal? And if it’s not quite good enough, what else would you ask for from the Sabres’ side?