When the Dallas Stars traded utility forward Steve Ott for Derek Roy many wondered if the organization had just lost a seemingly invaluable part of the team for a half-season or less of a an oft-injured center, signed for just one more year, in need of shoulder surgery, while staring a lockout in the face.
25 games in it's safe to say that Derek Roy has been nearly everything Stars fans hoped he would be.
15 points and a +6 rating are nice, but he does so much more. He's tenacious on the forecheck. His lines turn pucks over and create chances. He's on the positive side of puck possession every night (looking at you, Ribs). He can play in all situations, and does. He fuels the transition game, and they sorely missed him there when he was out with the groin problem.
Most importantly Roy's presence gives the Stars balance and a threat to score when Jamie Benn isn't on the ice, either during a game or as in last night's contest with Benn missing altogether.
Now Bob McKenzie on TSN Insider Trading says Roy's brief time in Dallas may come to an end after just 36 games at the trade deadline.
"Derek Roy's situation is interesting," McKenzie said last night. "He makes 4 million dollars a year. He and the Dallas Stars are not down the road at all on a new contract. In fact it would be fair to suggest that they have a much different idea in terms of value."
Value is an interesting concept this coming off-season. Centers are always coveted, and good ones are rarely on the market. The compliance buy-outs could cloud the picture, as could constricting cap situations around the league as the new CBA takes effect, but the guess is that centers are going to get paid no matter what.
Ryan Getzlaf's new contract is obviously at the high end, but has an effect. Mike Ribeiro will likely be on the market as well, and his greater than a point-per-game pace is going to fetch a handsome reward.
Look at the list on Capgeek of pending UFA centers. Quality is always hard to find, and the prices skyrocket July 1st. Common sense says that Roy will want to test the market and take advantage.
"The Stars probably think more along the lines of what he's making now and the four million dollar range," continued McKenzie, "And that Derek Roy is looking for up, up, up, way over five or six million dollars a year."
"So this is a player who is very much in play," McKenzie finished, "and could fit exactly the type of player the Vancouver Canucks are looking for as a third line center once Kesler comes back."
So the Canucks could potentially be looking at the current Star, and the former as they reportedly were last season.
A week ago Derek Roy told the Dallas Morning News that his agent is in contact with the Stars.
"They've been talking, so it's been good," Roy told the DMN. "Me and Joe have had a talk, too, so that's good. But, like I said, I can't focus on that or my game will go downhill pretty fast. That's why I hired an agent."
Stars fans would like to believe that something will get worked out, but need to be prepared for the possibility of "asset management" - Not losing someone for nothing. It's nice to think that Roy may like it here and he may believe in this new ownership group and that he may even feel gratitude after the shoulder surgery the Stars could have waited on but didn't, and Roy's saying all the right things.
"Obviously, with the shoulder surgery right away, they wanted me to be at my best, and be here for a long time, so it shows they really care for the players," Roy told Mike Heika. "It's a great organization here, I like it here, so it's just a matter of trying to get it done."
At the end of the day, though, it's business. With just 21 games played here there isn't a loyalty factor. It's about dollars and
cents more dollars, but could be about the situation and geography as well.
Roy doesn't have children to think about yet, but he was born in Ottawa. He played junior hockey for Kitchener in the OHL. He was drafted by Buffalo. He's spent his entire hockey life in that area surrounding the US/Canada border, and that he may want to get back up in that direction should not be discounted either.
As for the return on such a trade? It's anyone's guess. It's just a rental, in a market that could also include the likes of Jarome Iginla, Steve Ott, and Mike Ribeiro even, among many others.
Two and a half weeks are all that remain until the April 3rd deadline.
Joe Nieuwendyk has chosen to keep his teams together in each of the last three seasons rather than engage in asset acquisition to forsake possible playoff berths. It could be that he'll do the same this year, but fans need to be prepared for the possibility that Derek Roy (and perhaps others) may not be a Star for long if things don't come together quickly on the ice, or at the bargaining table.