The New Jersey Devils have officially signed Drew Stafford this morning, inking the veteran forward to a one-year, one-way contract worth $810K. Stafford had been with the team on a professional tryout during training camp.
The 32-year old Stafford ended up in New Jersey last season as well, playing 59 games for the club during the regular season but seeing his role decrease after some trade deadline acquisitions. This time around he’ll be asked to be little more than a depth forward that gives the team another option while Jesper Bratt recovers from a broken jaw suffered in practice this week. Stafford had just 15 points last season and is now several years removed from his 21-goal 2015-16 campaign with the Winnipeg Jets.
A reliable offensive player for much of his career, Stafford actually has 415 points in 784 career regular season games, with a high of 52 in 2010-11 with the Buffalo Sabres. While those totals are far from being replicated at this point in his career, he still can contribute in various roles including on the powerplay where he saw time last season. The Devils are hoping to once again shock the Metropolitan Division and make the playoffs, and will need all the veteran help they can get to insulate Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier up front.
The Devils also have a huge amount of cap room, making this move almost risk free for them. Even if Stafford proved to have very little left in the tank, all they’ve offered is a little under a million dollars and a contract spot. Though they’re now sitting at 48/50, the team will still have at least some room to go after college free agents or claim a player on waivers.