Ninth time's a charm, or so the saying goes.
Well, maybe the saying doesn't go quite like that, but it certainly rings true for 21-year-old Sabres prospect Drew Stafford. At least 20 different NHL teams would welcome Stafford to the their roster, but the Sabres haven't been one of them. He has been the victim of a numbers game -- too much depth up front in Buffalo.
So Stafford has bided his time in Rochester, bouncing back and forth from the American League to the NHL like a yo-yo, subbing in for various injured players, but never truly getting a solid opportunity. Now, on his ninth recall of the season, Buffalo's first-round pick in the 2004 draft (13th overall) will finally get his chance.
All at once, the Sabres have been hammered by serious injuries. Right winger Maxim Afinogenov is gone six to eight weeks with a broken wrist; left winger Ales Kotalik is gone two to four weeks with a sprained MCL and center Jiri Novotny is out indefinitely with a sprained ankle. The way has never been clearer for Stafford.
The 6-foot-2, 202-pound, right winger played 18 minutes and was on the second power play unit in Saturday night's 4-3 shootout loss to Boston. He scored a power play goal while playing on a line with Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek -- typically Afinogenov's spot.
Stafford has 65- to 70-point potential and would make a decent pickup in keeper leagues. In the immediate future, his situation is so ideal he would make a good pickup in rotisserie leagues. You can probably expect as many as 10 or 12 points over the next 15 games.
Injuries, from a fantasy pool perspective: Another player coming in under the radar is Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The 21-year-old made his first NHL start Sunday and performed extremely well until giving up a pair of goals in the third period. He's in the NHL because starter Cristobal Huet is out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. The Habs have been playing terrible hockey lately and the fact Halak gave them a win on Sunday will lead to more starts for the youngster. Halak has been playing some incredible hockey at the AHL level this season.
Farm Report: Denis Grebeshkov, acquired by the Oilers in the Marc-Andre Bergeron deal Feb. 18, has 14 points in 40 games for Lokomotiv of the Russian Super League. Grebeshkov projects as a power play quarterback who could be 55- or 60-point defenseman. He should make the Oilers lineup in the fall. ... Montreal prospect Andrei Kostitsyn is on a 10-game point streak in the AHL. He has 18 points in that span and is champing at the bit for a recall to the big club. There is no reason for him to not be with the Canadiens this October.
Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Pool Look appears every Monday and Wednesday only on The Hockey News.com. Want to speak with Darryl about fantasy hockey?
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