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Drew Stafford is on the trading block and this is a good thing for both parties.
Stafford has been in and out of the line up due to injuries, inconsistent play and better options for the Jet. He is having a down year production wise, having only 4 goals and 8 assists in 39 games. But, Stafford is still a serviceable player, who can play up and down the lineup.
So the question is, will the Jets trade Stafford by the trade deadline?
WHY THE JETS WILL KEEP STAFFORD
Stafford can play both wings and can be used in a checking role or a scoring role. He has hit 50 plus points twice in his career and has only been below double digits in goals 3 times since the 2006-07 season. The Jets have a strong top six in terms of goal scoring, so consistently having Stafford in the bottom six should help the team with secondary scoring. Even though he has not had a consistent season, Stafford still has value to the Jets.
WHY THE JETS WILL MOVE STAFFORD
Two reasons. First, the Jets are quickly dropping out of the playoff race, not like they’ve been in it for a while, and Stafford can provide added scoring depth to a team. Second,Stafford is a UFA at the end of the season and will most likely not be resigned. So, this could be a low risk move for a team making a playoff run if Stafford does not pan out and the Jets can get some assets back from a player they are most likely going to lose for nothing.
Out of all the players on the trade block, Stafford might be the most valuable secondary trade piece the Jets possess. He scored 21 goals last season and could produce on that pace again given the right team and opportunity.
WHERE COULD STAFFORD END UP?
Since Stafford is a UFA at the end of this season, the teams most likely to trade for him will be teams looking to make the playoffs and contend for the Stanley Cup.
In the Central Division, Nashville makes a lot of sense. The team does not have a lot of winger depth and Stafford could provide secondary scoring that could cement a playoff spot for the Predators. The Jets would have to retain some salary in a trade, but retaining salary has the potential to increase the value of the pieces sent to the Jets. Stafford would look good on Jarnkrok’s wing.
For the Pacific Division, the Edmonton Oilers make a lot of sense as they are currently looking to cement a playoff birth in 10 years and need winger depth. The Oilers have enough cap space to do a straight up trade involving draft picks and do not need to have any of Stafford’s salary retained. He could be a nice fit on Nugent-Hopkins’ wing on the third line and even bump up to the second line and play with Draisaitl.
The New York Islanders are in need of scoring help and Stafford could be the piece that gets the Islanders into a wildcard spot in the East. The Islanders will most likely not be able to catch Columbus, who is third in the Metropolitan Division. Cap space would be an issue for the Islanders, as it stands. However, a deal is doable. Stafford may be able to rediscover old chemistry with ex-teammate Andrew Ladd.
There are a couple of options for the Atlantic division, but the team that makes the most sense is the Montreal Canadiens. The team is potentially going all in this season, as they should, and the added secondary scoring Stafford could provide could cement the Canadiens’ contender status. Again, there would have to be some work in terms of cap room, but a deal with the Habs for Stafford makes too much sense.
The Canucks could be a wild card in terms of trading for Stafford. Their management is bent on making the playoffs and Stafford could at least provide depth that would improve the Canucks’ odds a little bit. The Canucks are using Jayson Megna on their first power play unit, Stafford should be better in that position.
Another team is the LA Kings. The Kings are quietly making cap space as they look to push for the playoffs. Having Stafford as a depth winger could greatly help with their playoff push.
The Florida Panthers is another team that could use Stafford. The Panthers are currently out of a playoff spot, but they are on a role and just outside of a playoff position. They also have almost 10 million in cap space. The Panthers could easily trade for Stafford for a depth role as they push for the playoffs.
Since Stafford is a UFA at the end of this season, trading him is a little easier because the Jets can retain some of his salary in a trade and have the salary come off the books in the off season.
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