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What Are the Expectations for Derek Roy?

Jeff Angus takes a very close look at the newest Dallas Stars center that we've yet to see in action.

Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars

When Dallas acquired Derek Roy this summer, I thought the move was a great one for the team. Not only did they massively upgrade the second line center spot, but they added an accomplished top-six forward still in his prime. And the best part – they bought low.

Roy has struggled in recent years due to injury and a rocky relationship with Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff. A fresh start is likely just what the doctor ordered (in addition to getting healthy...), as Roy had spent his entire professional career in the Buffalo organization.

And now with the news that he is close to 100% after off-season shoulder injury (it’s almost like Dallas knew the lockout would last for a few months when they recommended the surgery to Roy…), what can we expect from Roy in 2012-13? (Let's hope that I don't have to strike out that '13' either).

I’m going to provide a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis. There has been some great strides made in the analytics department with regards to hockey, but there is still a lot to be said for watching games and analyzing players using the standard statistics like goals and assists.

Dallas wanted to overhaul the team’s leadership core after multiple failures in recent years, and they did just that by trading away Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro. And with Roy, they have a point-per-game center (when healthy). The big issue with Roy isn’t whether he will fit in to whatever system Dallas will play. He’s a versatile player that can contribute in different roles.. What Dallas management and coaches are wondering – is Roy the same player now as he was a few years ago before tearing a muscle in his leg?

The Numbers

SEASON GP Corsi Rel QoC Corsi Relative
2007-2008 Season 78 0.26 13.3
2008-2009 Season 82 0.94 2.3
2009-2010 Season 80 0.38 4.2
2010-2011 Season 35 -0.36 -6.1
2011-2012 Season 80 0.77 5.4

For the most part, Roy has always been a positive possession player. In case you aren’t familiar with Corsi, it is a metric that essentially measures puck possession (it tracks shot activity – including shots blocked and shots that miss the net, and relative Corsi compares a player’s Corsi rating when he is on the ice to his team’s Corsi when he is off the ice).

For example, a Corsi rating of 5.4 means that for every 60 minutes of ice time, Buffalo directed 5.4 more shots at the opponents net than they allowed when Roy was on the ice in 2011-12. Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff never gave Roy shut down minutes, but he wasn’t sheltered in terms of opposition, either.

Ruff isn’t a coach who creates specialized situations for his players, which you can see below:

SEASON Off Zone Start %
2007-2008 Season 54.2
2008-2009 Season 50.9
2009-2010 Season 51.6
2010-2011 Season 61.3
2011-2012 Season 48.9

Roy’s offensive zone start percentage has hovered around 50 for the past five years – interestingly enough, he saw his highest zone start percentage in 2010-11, and his Corsi was a career-low -6.1. The sample size for this season was small though (35 games, thanks to his leg injury). Roy is more capable without the puck than Ribeiro, which is a huge reason why Dallas acquired him.

He is also going to grant Glen Gulutzan the luxury of playing Jamie Benn out in more offensive situations (something he hasn't been able to do in the past).

SEASON GP Pens Taken/60 Pens Drawn/60
2007-2008 Season 78 0.7 1.8
2008-2009 Season 82 0.6 1.6
2009-2010 Season 80 0.9 1.5
2010-2011 Season 35 0.6 1.1
2011-2012 Season 80 1.2 0.8

Roy, to be frank, has appropriately earned the title as a player who embellishes contact to earn penalty calls. He is quite good at it, though, as you can see above. There are many examples of great NHL players who are known to embellish to earn penalty calls (perhaps none are better than Kings captain Dustin Brown). The league has said it will be cracking down on diving, but Roy’s style of play (feisty) is conducive to drawing penalties regardless.

Roy was a key player for the Sabres throughout most of his time with them, and his performance in win/loss splits reflects that. Most star players have significantly better stat lines in wins compared to losses (as teams need to outscore their opposition to win, and star players are usually the ones involved in creating the offense). With that being said, Roy’s splits are quite striking.

In wins 33 28 87 0.15
In losses 11 26 89 0.05
2010-11 Pts PIM SOG Shoot Pct
In wins 23 6 42 0.1
In losses 12 10 47 0.13
2009-10 +/- Hits Pct Shoot Pct
In wins 47 26 125 0.13
In losses 22 22 90 0.11
2008-09 +/- Hits Pct Shoot Pct
In wins 45 18 117 0.16
In losses 25 20 104 0.09

The Qualitative Analysis

Roy is a playmaker who is capable of scoring goals. His high shooting percentage reflects a player who passes up more shots than he should, as is typical with many playmaking centers. He is playing for a new contract, and I’d wager the Stars have to be the frontrunner for his services – if they like his performance for the rest of the season.

He appreciated how the team viewed his injury situation, as well.

“They figured a 100 percent Derek Roy would help the team more than playing at 75 percent, getting hurt, coming back and doing that all season. We made the decision on surgery and right now for us, and we are going to move forward. I could have played with it, but I wouldn’t have been 100 percent. If it fails on me again, I could miss some games. Every time you do that, you take a step back. Getting the surgery done just shows how much they care and how they want their players to be 100 percent.”

He is also very solid on the draw – a much needed skill for Dallas, who sent their best faceoff man to Buffalo in the trade (and no, not Adam Pardy).

Whenever a player comes over from the Eastern Conference to the West, there is an adjustment period to the amount of travel. But if there is a season in 2013, it will very likely be division or conference only, which means less travel (although the Stars would still cover a lot more miles in the air than the Sabres ever did).

So what do the numbers tell us? They reinforce Roy’s reputation as a reliable two-way forward who has struggled a bit in recent years due to injury. If Roy uses the time away from hockey wisely to rehab his shoulder and quad, there is no reason why he can’t get back to his point-per-game level of production. And the contract year status is a significant motivator, especially for a player who wants to prove his detractors wrong.

There is no doubt that the Stars bought low on Roy, which is the way to go with regards to asset management in any line of business. But did they sell high on Ott? Roy and Ott are completely different players, and Ott’s versatility will be tough to replace. That being said, a player of Ott's skill set is easier to replace than a player of Roy's skill set. It just depends which Roy Dallas ends up getting.

At the very least, Roy's teammates will have a great place to party at in the summer:

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