Stafford completed his rookie season at the University of North Dakota in 2003-04 where he had 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists) in 36 games played. He was a member of the gold medal winning Team USA squad at the WJC in Finland earlier this year. Stafford was named WCHA Player of the Week for the week ending October 20th. During the 2002-03 season, Stafford played for Shattuck-St. Mary’s where he amassed 116 points (49 goals, 67 assists). During that season, he was also named the team’s Best All-Around Athlete/Citizen. In 2003, Stafford represented Team USA at the IIHF U-18 World Juniors Tournament in Russia and the U-18 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic. He is the son of former Milwaukee Admirals forward Gord Stafford and the nephew of Edmonton Oilers Equipment Manager Barrie Stafford.
Stafford, the Sioux’s leading scorer in 2005-06, signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Sabres on 5/3/06, effectively ending his NCAA career a year early.
Stafford is a player with good size and strength who possesses excellent hockey sense. While he is listed at 200 lbs. he looks to be a bit on the thin side. He possesses very good hand-eye coordination along with a long reach. Stafford is a player who has the ability to really step up his game and plays very well at both ends of the ice. He’s an excellent skater with good hustle and acceleration. His play along the boards and in the corners is also quite good, with the ability to grind things out. He maneuvers very well around opposing defensemen, at times making some highlight reel moves. He’s willing to drive to the net and is able to create havoc around it. He can deliver as well as take the punishing checks and doesn’t shy away from the physical aspects of the game. He sees the ice and anticipates remarkably well. He possesses some nice hands and good passing ability. His awareness both offensively and defensively allows him to play in any situation. His outstanding work ethic hasn’t gone unnoticed either.