BOSTON (CBS) — Drew Stafford will make his Bruins debut on Saturday night when Boston hosts the New Jersey Devils.
The B’s just don’t know where he’ll fit into the mix just yet.
Stafford hit the ice with his new teammates for the first time on Friday at the team’s optional skate in Brighton. He said the session was mostly just to get his legs moving after he made his way to Boston following Wednesday’s deadline day deal, and while there were no drills to acclimate him to the team’s system, he said it was just good to be out there with his new squad.
Both Stafford and interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said it’s still to be determined which line the forward will play on, a decision that will come following Saturday’s morning skate at the TD Garden. But the 31-year-old said he’s familiar with the Bruins and their style, given his lengthy history against them as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.
“I’ve had a long history against this team and the organization. I’ve always been a big fan of the city and the team. Knowing guys who have played here throughout the years, they say nothing but good things about it. I’m excited to be on board and hopefully carry over some of that past success to help these guys win some games,” he said.
That Bruins being back in the playoff hunt is what excites Stafford the most about joining the team. He’s not too concerned about fitting in, a process he said shouldn’t take very long.
“I know a lot of the guys here are focused on getting back into the playoffs and back into the hunt. I’m going to do the best I can to my ability to help this team win games,” he said. “The way this team has been playing as of late, from what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen, we’re in the mix to get back into the playoffs.”
Boston remains in third place in the Atlantic Division with 72 points, two points up on the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
Cassidy said Stafford can play on either side of the ice, which should make it easy to find him a spot in the lineup. But those decisions will have to wait until he gets a better look at his newest player on Saturday morning.
“He can play both sides and, at some point, I’m sure he will. I can’t tell you if that’ll be tomorrow, but that’s good to know,” said Cassidy, who is 7-2 since taking over for Claude Julien at the beginning of February. “Just another advantage for him and the group if we can move him around.”
Stafford gives Cassidy an option should he want to send Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes, Boston’s two biggest under-performers this season, up to the ninth floor.