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Derek Roy: Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth

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The Derek Roy situation is strange. His trade to Dallas passed the smell test to me. Some were unhappy with the move. Prior to the move being announced I questioned the wisdom of pursuing Roy, but after further thought his skill set is a perfect fit for what the Stars need with the absence of Mike Ribeiro. Picking up a potentially elite offensive weapon for a good third line center (albeit a fan favorite) is hardly a bad move.

From there the waters get murky. The Stars knowingly traded for an injured player only to find out that the injury was more severe after the trade. This all comes with the backdrop of the Stars promoting Roy as a long term solution at center when there are legitimate questions as to whether or not that is a desirable long term proposition.

There are a lot of ins and outs, a lot of what have yous here to consider. After the jump we'll dive head first into the situation to try to make some sense of what is happening.

Yesterdays news of Roy's surgery came out via a Mike Heika tweet. It caught almost everyone by surprise. Roy said he was healthy. The Stars said he was healthy. There was little reason to believe Roy would be anything other than healthy. As part of the process to making the trade the Sabres and Stars exchanged medical records. Nieuwendyk had this to say during the conference call about the trade:

We exchanged medicals on all the players and everything checked out with everyone that was involved. There was a significant thigh injury that he had and he's fully recovered from that. As I said earlier, our scouts really paid attention to him and thought that he was really get back to his normal production and pace of play late in the season. It kind of went hand in hand with the run Buffalo went on late in the season.

At the time of the trade the Stars were satisfied that Roy was healthy. In the call the Stars were under no obligation to mention any specific injury issues with the player, but they mentioned he had a thigh injury. Why no mention of the shoulder if they knew about it? Yesterday Brandon relayed the following information:

According to the team, Joe Nieuwendyk and Tom Gaglardi were aware of the shoulder pain that Roy had been playing through this past season. He was cleared medically for the trade, as is required for any trade in the NHL, yet the full extent of the damage to the shoulder was not known until a full physical in Dallas this past week. According to Joe Nieuwendyk, Roy could have played through the issue again this next season but "we want the best Derek Roy we could get."

Full disclosure time: I am naive to the full inner workings of an NHL transaction. I have a vague sense of how they come together, and I know teams swap medical records prior to consummating deals. The medical record swap happened in this case (so anyone wondering if the Sabres could be on the hook can stop wondering unless they think the Sabres doctored the records for some reason). Where I get lost in this process is the ultimate reality that the Stars knowingly traded for a player with injury issues without getting him in front of their own doctors.

How often does a full physical take place prior to a trade officially being consummated? Who knows. I doubt it's very often. It strikes me as curious in this situation though. Roy had two major physical red flags that were supposedly well known. The shoulder injury, for instance, happened last preseason. Are those two injuries not enough of a red flag to trigger a physical by your own team doctors prior to agreeing to send your most popular player away and accepting a 5.5 million dollar contract?

Maybe they aren't. Again, I'm admittedly naive to the process. It doesn't pass the smell test for me though. Suppose you're running a restaurant. When your food shipment arrives do you assume it's all there because the delivery company says so or do you check to make sure everything you ordered is there? When you buy a house do you read an online profile and some cursory information about the house then submit an offer? Of course not. You cover your bases because if things go wrong you suffer the consequences. Maybe that isn't standard operating procedure across the league, but it sure seems like it should be if it isn't.

Then again, maybe the Stars didn't know his shoulder was hurt or it was downplayed to such an extent that they weren't worried. They gave no indication that it was a problem while mentioning his thigh issue. Is it possible the Stars didn't know about the shoulder problems? Sure. The way Heika puts it, this seems likely:

Roy was cleared medically for the trade, but upon a more intense physical in Dallas, the shoulder issue came up.

The situation looks to be just a giant confluence of random circumstances that unluckily came together in a way that could potentially cause a big roster problem for 2013. It's very unlikely that we will ever know.

Rhetoric from the Stars says that this isn't just about 2013. They view Roy as a long term piece. The motivation for pursuing the surgery instead of allowing him to continue to play through the injury is to emphasize his long term value to the franchise.

It's an interesting play. It's a show of good faith from a new organization, and it welcomes him to the franchise while showing him how much they value him. They've made it pretty well known they want him to re-sign.This seems like a pretty speedy courtship, no? Roy has character concerns that led him away from Buffalo. He has the aforementioned injury red flags. The Stars have no idea how he is going to fit into the roster or what kind of chemistry he's going to have with anyone. They also still haven't signed Jamie Benn, and they obviously don't want to set a benchmark for his negotiations by committing a significant sum of money to Roy who already makes 5.5 million.

The Stars should be careful not to commit to anything too quickly. The fact that the Stars are showing a keen interest in keeping Derek Roy as part of the core is encouraging, Roy, at his best, is a legitimate first line talent. They are making the right move by getting his shoulder issues taken care of now instead of later, but if he misses any significant time the fan base is going to be understandably upset.

The entire situation is, in a word, strange. The circumstances surrounding the trade are suspect, and the verbal commitments to Roy as a long term piece of the core seem premature. One thing we can definitively say is that things certainly aren't boring around here like they have been the past four years. The Stars are finally making bold changes in an attempt to make the team better. Whether or not they work out will remain to be seen until the season (eventually) starts.