This year’s trade deadline was uneventful. March 1st was filled with a bunch of small trades that we probably made a bigger deal out of than we should have. However, just a little over two weeks have gone by and people are already looking for a winner. As a follower of analytics, it would be unfair of me to decide less than ten games in who won the deadline. Mainstream media gets a ton of clicks for those posts though, so let’s evaluate them.
A post from Sportsnet found that the last trade of the deadline held the most value. The Bruins traded a 6th round pick to the Jets for Drew Stafford. Stafford has had the worst season of his career. His -3.38 rel CF% is by far the worst of his career, his all situations 1.74 points per 60 is below career average, and he has suffered from the second lowest shooting percentage of his career. The question is: where is the value in Drew Stafford?
On March 1, Stafford had a game score of .25 per game, a fourth line rate. So why trade for a fourth liner? It’s not like he hasn’t shown signs of improvement this year. His 25 game rel CF% rolling average has stayed relatively poor. He is still the poor “possession” player he has been over the last few years.
His defensive efforts have been average, but Drew Stafford has struggled his entire career to drive play, especially the last few years. His team has attempted 50.03 shots per 60 minutes while he was on the ice since the start of the 2013-14 season. That is well below league average. Nothing pops out that he has been held back except DTMaboutHeart’s WAR which has found him to be a fairly useful player. Unfortunately, because of the trade, we can’t access his WAR from this year, however, there is a thought that his value to his team is far better than his “possession” numbers.
Stafford hasn’t found his place on the Bruin’s roster yet. His time with Spooner has looked ugly, and even though he did spend some time with Krejci, because Pastrnak and Backes are the top 2 right wingers, he gets squished down to the third line where he is forced to play with non-play drivers, or plays on his off-wing which is worse. Not being able to drive play himself makes it hard to find him as a terrific pickup.
In his few games with the Bruins, he is shooting almost twice the amount he did in the 40 games he played for Winnipeg this season, but we have reason to believe that is mostly due to a few games earlier in the season where he didn’t take a shot. The goals that have come in his first few games with the Bruins should not have been too much of a surprise as he is shooting slightly more and his shooting percentage was far below his career average.
In the end, mainstream media can create a lot of noise. This could be a case of getting a guy at the right time or maybe a perfect fit, only time will tell. Drew Stafford will most likely produce at a middle six rate again while continuing to be outshot. He is getting the spotlight because he scored 2 goals and the Bruins are winning. Be patient and avoid small sample sizes. Think critically my friends.
All numbers via Corsica.hockey, 5v5 score, venue, and zone adjusted unless stated otherwise.