Sabres re-sign RW Stafford to 4-year contract
Forward Drew Stafford was already impressed with the fresh
approach owner Terry Pegula has brought to the Buffalo Sabres in
the three months since he purchased the franchise.
Now Stafford will have an opportunity to play a key role in the
The right wing agreed to a four-year contract on Friday in a
deal that keeps the Sabres’ second-leading goal-scorer from
becoming a restricted free agent next month. Stafford will earn $4
million each year of the deal, financial figures first reported by
The Buffalo News.
”I’m very, very excited that a deal got done,” Stafford told
The Associated Press by phone shortly after the deal was announced.
”Buffalo’s an organization that I believe is going in the right
direction. I’m just so excited and feel very privileged to be a
part of this organization’s future. I just believe we have a chance
to bring a championship to the city of Buffalo.”
Buffalo’s 2004 first-round draft pick is coming off a season in
which he had 31 goals and 52 points – both career highs – in 62
games. He tied for third on the team in points and led the NHL with
four three-goal games.
Stafford’s offensive punch played a key role in helping the
Sabres overcome the loss of top center Derek Roy to injury in
December. The Sabres went 29-11-6 after Dec. 28 to finish seventh
in the Eastern Conference.
”It was important for us to get Drew locked up,” general
manager Darcy Regier said. ”What we saw from Drew this season is
exactly what we envisioned when we drafted him. Drew will continue
to be an important part of our team in the coming years.”
In four-plus NHL seasons, Stafford has 94 goals and 196 points
in 317 games.
The signing is considered to be the first of several significant
moves the Sabres are expected to make to improve the team this
offseason under Pegula, the Pennsylvania billionaire who purchased
the team in February. Sabres management has already suggested it
will take an aggressive approach in adding talent either through
free agency or trades this summer.
That’s a switch from the past, when the Sabres established an
inconsistent track record for retaining star players and led to the
team losing co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere to free agency
on July 1, 2007.
Stafford said talks didn’t take long, and added he is eager to
build on his production.
”I believe I just took a step in the right direction in
becoming a better player,” Stafford said. ”I plan on continuing
to get better and build on last season.”