A Healthy Derek Roy Is A Big Part of Stars' Plan

Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Rested, healthier than he's been in years, rejuvenated, still under 30 - The Stars think Derek Roy can help their team, and they need him to if their rebuild is to continue unabated.

Jaromir Jagr in a Dallas Stars jersey.

That is the refrain. It's a good one.

It will put families in seats. It will bring ESPN and the like to the American Airlines Center locker room and beyond. Glimpses of that legendary gold chain peeking out from a hairy-hockey-hall-of-fame-chest will thrill the masses, and his presence will be a good one for budding Stars in Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson.

On top of all of that, he may even score some goals.

It's a classic case of burying the lede, however, as far as I'm concerned.

As badly needed as these 48 games are, 48 games is all it's ever likely to be for Mr. Jagr. Derek Roy, on the other hand, can be a major cog of the post-lockout/Tom Gaglardi era.

Jaromir Jagr. Shortened season. Brenden Morrow's potential end with the team. Jamie Benn's ascendancy. Kari Lehtonen's health. Cody Eakin's ceiling. Glen Gulutzan's power play. Ray Whitney's impact - They're all fine story lines, but none of them have the potential to impact this season and the years to come like Roy does in my eyes.

Some readers may want to subtitle this post: "Did the Dallas Stars trade much beloved Steve Ott for 48 games of a guy coming off two pretty significant injuries?"

That's the question. That was the gamble. Joe Nieuwendyk gambled on Kari Lehtonen and won big. The Stars GM has specialized, during very lean times for the franchise, in finding value in players that could use a fresh start elsewhere. Alex Goligoski is another example, and a very useful one to the franchise moving forward, though you may wish to argue.

Faced with another need (a desperate one at the center position) and limited resources Nieuwendyk made a similar move, though the price tag was dear to fans. Roy's time in Buffalo was reaching a natural end due to a public falling out with the coaching staff and other factors, not the least of which was a potential mishandling of his shoulder that needed to be repaired.

If he re-gains the form that saw him score 318 points in the 350 games (+53) prior to a serious injury, then he's a 29 year-old second line center that is, possession-wise and defensively, a pretty significant upgrade over Mike Ribeiro.

Taking a look at the OZQoC Charts (usage charts) from last season, (in which Roy says he was basically popping his shoulder in and out of its socket during games and recovering from a major quad-tear the year before) we see that Roy scored 44 points in 80 games last year, was a positive CORSI player, and was used largely defensively (whether intended or not) by Lindy Ruff.

That's a decline but the injuries played their part, the zone starts and quality of competition played their parts, as well as the more intangible detractors in Buffalo that have been well documented.

The Stars expect him to perform at a higher level, and they expect to re-sign him as soon as may be. "He's been really impressed with our organization, the way he's been treated," Nieuwendyk told BaD Radio yesterday. "It will be our intention to sign him as we move along here."

What impact will the new CBA have on their chances to get him to stay? It's still too early to tell, but if teams are contemplating a compliance buyout or two just to get down to $64.3 million next season it's possible that the free agent market won't be as lucrative as in other years. His performance this season, if stellar, could change that, of course. It would be an agreeable problem to have.

What should expectations be for Roy, and what constitutes a successful season worthy of a long term deal? In 48 games (just 58% of a regular season) it's difficult to say. Travel will be hard on Dallas and the Pacific remains one of the more difficult divisions in the league.

25-30 points in 48 games with a new team would be something special to build on. His impact on other players (Jamie Benn in particular) will be more telling. The Stars struggled last year because Benn's line had to be used to check the opposition's best. If Roy/Eriksson and the Cody Eakin line can do that and free up more offensive ice for Benn and Whitney (just guessing here), then the results needed will be there even if the point production is not.

He can also kill penalties. If he helps the power play too (and we'll talk about that soon as well) then so much the better.

Rested, healthier than he's been in years, rejuvenated, still under 30 - The Stars think Derek Roy can help their team, and they need him to if their rebuild is to continue unabated. When observing him in the early going remember that it's not just the game on the line, it's potentially a huge part of this forward group moving forward.

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