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It’s looking increasingly likely that the Winnipeg Jets will lose Michael Frolik in unrestricted free agency, but they’re reportedly doing what they can to keep middle-six winger Drew Stafford in the fold, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.
Here’s the LeBrun report in full, which also touches on the likelihood that Frolik will head elsewhere for a bigger payday on July 1:
Pending UFA winger Michael Frolik appears headed to the market unless there’s a last-minute change of heart, as the gap in contract talks is too large right now between the Winnipeg Jets and his camp. Another pending UFA forward for the Jets is Drew Stafford. His agent, veteran Steve Bartlett, said he remains in “good faith negotiations” with the club to see if there’s a fit for Stafford to stay in Winnipeg.
Stafford, as we know, lit it up for the Jets following his acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres as the NHL-ready part of the Evander Kane trade. Though the level of production he managed in his short time with the Jets is likely to prove unsustainable going forward, the 29-year-old is generally a capable middle-six goal scorer and point producer, although his two-way game has seemed to be on the decline since the 2012 NHL lockout.
In Stafford’s case I find it a bit difficult to rely on the underlying data when evaluating his game, just because of how truly godawful the Sabres were in recent seasons. It’s tough to tease out how the club’s poor quality impacted Stafford, though I do think we can safely conclude that he’s not a top-of-the-lineup piece.
We can say with a good degree of confidence that Stafford is a useful secondary scoring forward, but he’s probably not a good play driving winger, and he might be a defensive liability. In extending the contract of such a player, particularly when they’re about to turn 30-years-old, the Jets would do well to proceed with caution.
Earlier this offseason Garret Hohl suggested that Stafford is worth somewhere between $3.3 million and $3.8 million and that sounds about right to me. On a three-year deal at those terms, it could make a good deal of sense for the Jets to re-sign Stafford.
And from the sounds of it, they’re trying to make that happen.