The trades just keep on rolling. I feel bad for all the Trade-(enter conjunction here) programs that won’t have much to talk about tomorrow because everything is happening today. In a move that isn’t so surprising but kind of is surprising, the Dallas Stars career of Derek Roy ends after 30 games. It’s not so surprising because Vancouver needs a second line center. It’s kind of surprising because despite sitting in 12th in the West, Dallas is just three points out of a playoff spot. He is gone to Vancouver in exchange for 23-year old defenseman Kevin Connauton and a second round pick (presumably this year). Connauton has yet to play a game in the NHL, so like the Bouwmeester and Iginla trades, there is only one name of fantasy consequence.
Derek Roy was once thought (at least in my estimation) to be a rising number one center in the NHL. He cracked 20 goals and 60 points as a 23-year old in Buffalo, something he would do in the subsequent three years. Also, as a 24-year old, he notched 32 goals and 81 points, the only time in his career he would average over a point-per-game.
He has seen his ice-time decrease over the years. In that 2007-2008 season when he tallied 81 points, he averaged just under 21 minutes per game. He would crack the 21 minute mark the following year. In the four years following (including this year), he’s been under 20 minutes and is under 19 minutes so far this season.
His shooting percentage of 6.2% this year is pathetic. He’s a career 12.4% shooter and last year (9.7%) was the first time his entire career where he shot under 10%. Not only that, his shot/game rate has been declining for five straight years from 2.79 shots/game in 2007-2008 to 2.17 this year. It might not seem like a lot, but that’s 50 less shots in the run of a full season. When you’re shooting at a declining rate, the only way to mitigate that without systems changes is by shooting more. The opposite will lead to four goals in 30 games, which Roy has done this year.
His power-play time has been a bit of a concern. His 2.69 minutes/60 is the second-lowest for him in the last six years (the lowest was last year). When you have a player with declining shooting percentages, declining shot totals, declining ice-time and declining power-play time, there should be red flags everywhere as far as fantasy is concerned. These are all indicators of either regression or progression and Roy is going the wrong way.
Is there hope for him to turn it around? Absolutely.
Going from Dallas to Vancouver means the pressure is no longer on Roy to produce (sort of). In Dallas, he was playing on the “number one” line (in quotations because it’s possible the Benn/Jagr combo was the top line) and because of that he was drawing the top defense pairing of opponents. His linemates in Dallas, Ray Whitney and Loui Eriksson, were also suffering downturns from production that they have shown in the recent past.
The hope for him in Vancouver is that he will be slotted as the number two center behind Henrik Sedin with Chris Higgins and Alex Burrows. While the quality of the players he will be on a line with will decline a bit, he will be avoiding the top D-pairing of other teams. This should free up space for Roy to find Higgins and Burrows. Hopefully he turns back into the center who had 40+ assists for four straight years at one point.
The biggest impact could come on the power-play. With only six power-play points this year, Roy has been a bit of a disappointment in that sense. But last year, the Canucks stacked their first power-play unit (much like Pittsburgh does). This led to the fourth-best power-play efficiency and T-2nd in power-play goals in the regular season. The bulk of the time was taken up by the Sedins and Ryan Kesler.
With Kesler nowhere near coming back, I will be interested to see if they put Roy with the Sedins. I can’t imagine they won’t, considering that after being so prolific at power-play scoring last year, the Vancouver Canucks have the second-worst PP efficiency in the NHL so far this year. I would be willing to guess that with the window closing on the Canucks to win a Cup, coach Alain Vigneault will do anything he can to get his team into the playoffs and back to the Stanley Cup. I will assume this includes putting their third-best forward on the same power-play as their two best forwards. It is pure guesswork as of right now but it seems to make the most sense.
Roy had the third-highest On-Ice SH% of any Dallas Stars forward this year who has played 20 games. This means that despite his pathetic shooting rate, he was making the players around him a little bit better. This is exactly the type of player Vancouver is looking for, especially on the power-play. If he gets on that top PP unit, he will have significantly more fantasy value than he does right now. If he does not, then it’s pretty much status quo for him (maybe a bit better than Dallas).
**UPDATE: Just read that it appears that Ryan Kesler may be back sooner than expected. Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province reports that Kesler should skate at practice today. This would indicate that he will be back within the week. If this is the case, Roy probably has less fantasy value than he did in Dallas unless he stays on the second line (doubtful) or manages to crack the first PP unit (doubtful again).