It’s been nine years now since Sanford was selected 61st overall by the Washington Capitals, and despite short periods of success, appears to be at something of a crossroads in his career. Though he stands 6’4″ and is willing to engage physically, Sanford has never seemed like an ideal fit in the bottom-six, with obvious offensive talent that should push him higher in the lineup.
Unfortunately, that talent only comes out in inconsistent spurts, leading to Sanford being tossed around the league the last 12 months. After filing for arbitration last summer he agreed to a one-year, $2MM deal with the St. Louis Blues, only to be traded a few months later to the Ottawa Senators. He lasted 62 games in Ottawa before another trade took him to the Winnipeg Jets, a move that made little sense at the time, as a playoff run looked like a dream.
The Jets used a fifth-round pick on Sanford in March, only to watch him leave as a free agent this summer, following a goal-less 18 games in Winnipeg. Overall this season he had nine goals and 21 points in 80 games.
In recent years, the Predators have been able to carve out “identity” roles for players with limited skillsets, finding a place for them to do what they do best and not ask for more. Whether they can do the same for Sanford remains to be seen but with an $850K deal he likely figures into the mix at some point.
If he leans into his size and strength, simplifying his game, he might become a bottom-six weapon. If not, he could be approaching his last chance as an NHL regular.