Stafford is a familiar name to most Bruins fans, as he spent nine seasons with the Buffalo Sabres before being traded to Winnipeg in 2015. The 31-year-old signed a two-year, $8.7 million contract with the Jets during that summer, and responded with 21 goals for Winnipeg last season.
Stafford has struggled with injuries this year, amassing just four goals and nine assists in 40 games for Winnipeg (28-30-6), who are currently five points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Bruins were able to get Stafford for just a conditional sixth-round pick, and his addition will undoubtedly push the wingers on the bottom two lines of the suddenly-surging squad. Stafford has been a 15+ goal scorer in seven of his previous ten seasons in the NHL, and could slot in on the third line with youngsters Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano.
Stafford has had some success against the Bruins in his career, with 14 goals and 15 assists in 48 games versus Boston.
Boston’s recent push under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy (7-1-0) probably changed the plans of the front office to follow up with the sudden dismissal of Claude Julien with other moves in an attempt to shake up things. With a couple more losses, the Bruins could have quickly shifted to sellers in the tightly-contested Eastern Conference, where they are currently tied with Ottawa for second place in the Atlantic Division but just four points ahead of Florida and the Islanders for ninth-place in the conference.
By not making any crazy moves, the Bruins have signaled that not only are they confident with what they currently have on the roster, but that they think they have enough to make a push towards their first postseason berth in three seasons.
And while the top four teams in the Metropolitan Division would look to be the favorites in the East, hockey’s postseason is by far the most unpredictable, so who knows how far the Bruins could go if they earn a playoff berth this year?
Plus, it wasn’t really clear who the Bruins needed to jettison off the roster now that they have seemingly turned their season around under Cassidy. There were rumors swirling about veterans Matt Beleskey and John-Michael Liles, who have seen little ice time in favor of younger options under the former Providence Bruins head coach. There were also rumblings about the Kings and Blackhawks inquiring about Zdeno Chara, but the captain has a no-trade clause. Players like Spooner and even Jimmy Hayes (who may be out of a roster spot now that Stafford is on the team) have drastically picked up their level of play in the last eight games, and the team as a whole really seems to be clicking on all cylinders.
So unlike with the other team that plays at the Boston Garden, standing pat (with one small move sprinkled in) looks to be the perfect decision for the Bruins at the Trade Deadline.
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