Drew Stafford has always been efficient in his role: a top 9 player that has consistently score 15-20 goals and play at any spot in the lineup where he was needed.
Nabbing Stafford in the Evander Kane blockbuster deal didn’t seem like a big acquisition, but Stafford has helped make the trade become an obvious win for the Jets. While all has been well during his tenure with the Jets, the possibility of trading him could be contemplated by the Jets front office before the season begins.
Stafford turns 31 in October and is in the final year of his contract with the Jets. The real question Winnipeg will have to ponder is if it’s worth it to sign him for another year or two and clog up a spot that could be used for a top prospect down the road.
Pros to trading Stafford
By trading Stafford, the Jets would be able to have another open spot in the top 9 that’d be up for grabs. That could be be a huge plus for Winnipeg and give them a chance to inject more youth in to their lineup and become faster and quicker more throughout the lineup.
If the Jets decide they don’t see Drew Stafford in the teams future plans, they’d likely let him walk at free agency. Instead of letting Stafford walk for free, the Jets could dangle him on the trade market and seek a mid round pick. While a second or third round pick may not be the most appealing thing to get in return, wouldn’t it be better than letting him walk and having the Jets be empty handed? There could be quite the market for Stafford, he could be a perfect rental for a team trying to load up on mid level scorers on the quest for the cup.
Now as you can see, the pros to trading Stafford aren’t that great and I think there are too many cons to trading him to even consider pull the trigger on a deal.
The many cons to trading Stafford
On the other side of the coin, you have to look at moving Stafford as de ja vu for the Jets. The move would likely hand a top 9 spot to a rookie and assume a prospect is ready for that spot. That sort of scenario occurred last season when the Jets tried to move in a younger direction and leave spots open for prospects and not re-sign forwards Jiri Tlusty, Lee Stempniak and Michael Frolik. The move backfired and the Jets missed the postseason and took a step back after reaching the playoffs the year prior.
You can’t have a team entirely comprised of young players. You need veterans to support players like Patrick Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, not more young guys that are trying to find their way in the league as well. Stafford is a good player to have for his value and his role and the same goes for newly signed forward Mathieu Perreault.
With the way the Jets roster is shaping up to be, it looks like the team will have a solid chance to clinch a postseason berth. If the Jets are serious about starting to build in the present day ( as they should be ) trading Stafford would put them a step back and the mid level pick they’d acquire might not even turn out and if it does it likely wont be for another couple years.
Yes, the Jets very well could lose Stafford for nothing next season, and that’s not the end of the world. When the Jets kept pending UFA Michael Frolik past the trade deadline two seasons ago, many saw it as a risky move if the Frolik were to walk in the summer and leave Winnipeg empty handed. But by keeping Frolik it helped the Jets reach the playoffs and that playoff experience is much better than acquiring a few assets.
The Jets don’t want to shoot themselves in the foot this year, expectations are high in Winnipeg and with the roster they have assembled they could reach expectations. Trading Stafford would make the Jets worse at this point and would make them a little too young.
Don’t pull the trigger on a deal now or at the deadline that involves Drew Stafford. The Jets likely will be quite young next season as it is and they don’t need to force themselves to become even younger. Stafford could help the Jets reach the playoffs next season and as the Jets turn the page to a new regime filled with young talent, they still need veterans to balance out the young talent.