BOSTON — Life for Drew Stafford now is much different than it was at the beginning of the 2016-17 NHL campaign.
Stafford started the season with the Winnipeg Jets, looking to build on a 21-goal season in which as one of the few bright spots on a last-place team. But this season didn’t start well for Stafford, who scored just four goals in 40 games with the Jets before the NHL trade deadline, which is when things really became interesting.
Winnipeg shipped the 31-year-old to Boston for a conditional late-round pick. Athletes rarely control the timing of these sorts of moves, and the trade to Boston came just as Stafford’s wife was about to give birth to twins.
Whirlwind doesn’t do it justice.
Stafford hit the ground running with the Bruins, though, scoring four goals in 18 regular-season games and a pair of tallies in six playoff games. Now, he’s probably a little more interested in assists, as he heads home to help with his growing family. He’s also entering unrestricted free agency, but he certainly liked what he saw in Boston and is open to returning.
“If I’m presented any kind of a chance, it’s something I’d (be) definitely, definitely into,” Stafford said Tuesday at the Bruins’ breakup day. “My wife wasn’t able to make it out, but we talked about it a little bit as a possibility, but that’s something we’ll let (Bruins general manager Don Sweeney) and my agent — if they feel moving forward it can be a good fit then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I know the business side of things kind of works itself out that way. Me personally, I loved my experience here and that would be great, but we’ll see what happens.”
Boston does have great schools, after all.
Here are a few more leftover notes from breakup day.
— Forward Dominic Moore, also a UFA, is open to returning, too.
“These guys are as good as it gets when it comes to leadership,” the Harvard alum said Tuesday.
— The rest of the Bruins’ unrestricted free agent class includes John-Michael Liles, Zac Rinaldo, Chris Castro, Tommy Cross, Alex Grant and Tyler Randell.
The list of restricted free agents is a little longer and includes players like Malcolm Subban, Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak, Joe Morrow, Noel Acciari and Tim Schaller.
— There’s always uncertainty entering the offseason, especially for players with unsettled contract situations. Add in the Vegas’ Golden Knights’ expansion draft on June 21, and it makes for a potentially stressful summer across the NHL.
The requirements for player exposure are a little convoluted, but the most important detail states each team most expose the following:
One defenseman and two forwards under contract in 2017-18 who’s played 40 or more NHL games the prior season or 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
One goalie under contract for 2017-18 or who will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract.
Among the players who would qualify for exposure is defenseman Adam McQuaid, who admitted Tuesday he hasn’t given much thought to the draft and prefers to say where he is.
“I never thought of it that way, to be honest with you,” he said. “Obviously, the reality of the situation is they’re picking somebody from every team. So, I hope that’s not the case for me.”
— We already touched on Zdeno Chara’s desire to extend his NHL career beyond his current contract which expires after the 2017-18 season. Sure, he’s 40, but he still can provide some value whether it’s in Boston or chasing a Stanley Cup elsewhere as a veteran leader on the back end. Regardless, of what his future holds, Chara looked and sounded like a player who’s not even considering retirement anytime soon. He spoke for about 20 minutes and did so with excitement, especially when talking about the finer points of the sport. It’s clear the fire still burns for the Boston captain.
— Speaking of Chara, Charlie McAvoy still can’t believe he gets to call the former Norris Trophy winner a teammate.
McAvoy called it an “honor” to play with Chara.
“At first, I had to blink a few times and think, ‘Wow,’ I’m talking to Zdeno Chara, this guy’s a future Hall of Famer,’ and he’s an unbelievable hockey player, and it was just very special to be with that guy and learn as much as I can from him, and I hope in the future I can continue to grow through him.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images