It was one of the last deals made before the 3:00 p.m. trade deadline on March 1, but Boston’s acquisition of Drew Stafford may already be the best bang for the buck.
Before venturing any further, yes, Kevin Shattenkirk is the far better player and will have far more impact playing 20-plus minutes a night for the Washington Capitals. And sure Jonathan Dahlen, fresh off a five-point night for Timra in the Allsvenskan playoffs, looks like one heck of an add by the Vancouver Canucks for an ageing and in-decline Alexandre Burrows.
But Stafford has already had a fairly big impact on the playoff race, in which the Bruins are currently entangled.
In the final minutes before the deadline, the Winnipeg Jets made their only move of the day by trading Stafford, a pending UFA they had to get something for, in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
Now, the 31-year-old was having a poor season with just four goals and 13 points in 40 games with Winnipeg. The season prior he posted 21 goals and 38 points, though, and the one before that he had 18 goals and 43 points. Considering his shooting percentage with the Jets this season was down at 5.9 (nearly half his career average) with an average time on ice (13:18) lower than any season since he was a rookie, there was legitimate reason to believe Stafford could be a bigger contributor with Boston.
In just four games, Stafford hasn’t yet played fewer than 14 minutes and has even earned time with David Krejci and David Pastrnak on Boston’s second line. In his first game with Boston, Stafford earned an assist on the game-winning goal against New Jersey mid-way through the third period. In his third game against Detroit, he scored a goal and added an assist in a 6-1 win for Boston. And on Saturday he helped bury the Flyers, with some luck for sure.
In the dying seconds of the third period, Stafford took a shot that deflected off Flyers defenceman Brandon Manning to beat Steve Mason (sure it was a fluke, but considering his shooting percentage these kind of things were bound to start going his way eventually). The goal prevented the game from heading into overtime where the Flyers would have at least gotten a point — Boston moved up to 78 points in 68 games and just six points behind Montreal for first in the Atlantic Division.
The Flyers, meanwhile, remain five points out of the final wild card berth with the Islanders, Maple Leafs and Lightning in front of them.
With four points in four games, Stafford has been a great add for the Bruins — in fact, the only loss they’ve had with him in the lineup was the game he didn’t record a point in. Considering the light cost, he’s so far been the best trade deadline acquisition.