Ninth time is the charm, or so the saying goes.
 
Well, maybe the saying doesn’t go quite like that, but it certainly bodes true for 21-year-old Sabres prospect Drew Stafford. There are 20 different NHL teams that would welcome Stafford to the their roster, but the Sabres haven’t been one of them. He has been a victim of the numbers game – too much depth up front in Buffalo. So Stafford has had to bide his time in Rochester, bouncing from the American League to the National League 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 2004 (13th overall) will get that chance.

All at once, the team has been hammered by serious injuries. Winger Maxim Afinogenov is

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gone six to eight weeks with a broken wrist. Winger Ales Kotalik is gone two to four weeks with a sprained MCL. Center Jiri Novotny is out with a sprained ankle indefinitely. The way has never been clearer for Stafford.On Saturday the 6-2, 202-pound winger played 18 minutes and was on the second power-play unit. He scored a goal while playing on a line with Derek Roy and Tomas Vanek – typically Afinogenov’s spot. Stafford has 65 to 70-point potential and makes a decent pickup in keeper leagues. For the immediate future, his situation is so ideal right now that he makes an ideal 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 is in the NHL because starter Cristobal Huet is on the shelf indefinitely with a hamstring injury. The Habs have been playing terrible hockey lately and the fact that 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 on Sunday, 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 be on the big squad come 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 on the big club this October.


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