When the Washington Capitals announced their final roster cuts on Monday morning, the biggest surprise of the six names was the name of Derek Roy. The veteran center signed a professional tryout with the organization last month, hoping to impress during training camp and preseason but could not secure a roster spot. With the decision being made, it’ll be interesting to see if Jay Beagle will be slotted into the third-line role while the Caps now have some cap space to make a move during the season.
The question now is; What is next for Derek Roy?
The 32-year-old had spent the last three seasons with five different teams; the Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers.
Last season was split between the Predators and Oilers, but nobody expected the impact Roy would have in Edmonton. One player in particular was caught off guard at first, his linemate Nail Yakupov.
“The first five or six games with Derek I was scared of him,” Yakupov told the Edmonton Journal. “He would be yelling or swearing at me, but it was worth it. Sometimes you’re trying to be everywhere on the ice, but you have to be in your spot and listen to the center.”
What started off as a game of intimidation, it quickly turned into a match made in heaven. The veteran guidance with Roy helped improve the game of Yakupov, and the young Russian prospect adapted to a new style of offensive play. Before long, the two were clicking on all cylinders. Roy himself posted 11 goals and 22 points in 46 games with the Oilers, while Yakupov improved to 14 goals and 33 points. More important to Yakupov, however, was the learning curve.
“He’s seen everything in the game. He could help a young kid like me. Soon as Derek got the puck, I was trying to get open for a shot. He gave me so much support and I was happy to be playing hockey again.”
Roy, on the other side of the coin, echoed positive sentiments towards Yakupov. “Yak was a great kid and he’s a good hockey player. I just had to help him out a little bit, and you know, he was on his way after that.”
The off-season was a rather quiet one. With no teams showing enough interest, Roy signed a professional tryout with the Washington Capitals in hopes of earning a contract with the club. Tomas Fleischmann and Lee Stempniak both did so with their respective teams, unfortunately Roy could not add his name to the recent signings from PTO deals. It’s a situation that his agent, Rob Hooper, has a hard time understanding.
“I can’t believe nobody in the NHL will sign Derek,” stated Roy’s agent, Rob Hooper to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal. “We’ve had some lucrative offers to go over to Europe, but Derek’s a competitor who would like to participate in the National Hockey League and try to win a Stanley Cup.”
At the stage he is at in his career, Roy should still be garnering some attention from NHL teams. While he is undersized, Roy can still provide secondary scoring on a third line and add a veteran voice to a locker room that may need it. Last season, he scored 12 goals and 32 points with two teams and the season prior, he scored 8 goals and finished with 37 points with the Blues. A fine mix of leadership, competitive drive and the ability to chip in on the scoresheet when needed, it’s amazing to think Roy hasn’t been offered anything more than a professional tryout and some interest from Europe.
What’s refreshing to know is that Roy has not given up hope on his own tangibles. While still under his PTO with the Capitals, Roy had this to say about his situation and we think a positive attitude like this can only be a good thing for his future in the NHL.
“You’re going to throw all your eggs in one basket,” Roy said. “You’re going to be invested in this team and part of the team right now and hopefully down the road, so it’s a matter of building relationships and working hard every day and showing what you can do offensively, defensively, face-offs, everything. You’ve got to develop a trust with the coaching staff and your teammates, and that’s something I’m trying to do here.”