It hasn't really been the life of a first rounder for forward Drew Stafford, who was selected in the first round, 13th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2004 National Hockey League Entry draft.
The right winger struggled to get a good contract in the past season, and ended up last summer, inking a one-year, one-way contract worth $800,000 with the New Jersey Devils on Aug. 25. He managed to record eight goals and 15 points in 59 games with the Devils this campaign, but ended up testing the market as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Stafford has only produced 16 goals and 36 points in 117 games over the past two years, clearly being affected by age and the speed of the game. Some people wondered if the 32-year-old forward would decide to hang up his skates and call it a career after 12 seasons, but it seems like he is going after one last desperate attempt to stick in the NHL.
On Friday, it was announced that the Devils would give Stafford another chance. The Devils announced today that Stafford has been invited to training camp on a professional tryout agreement. He will therefore fight for a full-time but on the roster in New Jersey.
The Devils clinched a spot in the post season this past spring and Stafford appeared in two games during the 2018 Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Unfortunately for Stafford, it seems like the Devils will have a fierce competition at right wing. Blake Speers, Joey Anderson, McLeod, and possibly John Quenneville all have a shot at playing the position and will fight hard for a spot. There are expected to be quite the challenge for Stafford and his PTO, would could prove that experience is the most important asset. Anderson had an impressive NCAA career, winning a national title this past spring with the University of Minnesota-Duluth and could be the biggest obstacle for Stafford moving forward into camp next week.
In 784 career NHL games with Buffalo, the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins and New Jersey, Stafford has scored 191 goals, 224 assists and 415 points and 397 penalty minutes.