During yesterday’s broadcast, and very much everywhere else,
something came up when the issue of re-signing Derek Roy was discussed that
just doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is the perception out there that the
Oilers should wait until at least the draft lottery before they ink their 2C to
an extension. This is nonsense.
The thinking goes like this (I think): The Oilers are in a
great position to draft first or second overall and if
they do they should be getting one of two draft eligible centers who most believe
can jump into NHL action next season. Signing Derek Roy would not only complicate
where this 18 year old kid would play in the lineup but it would be entirely unnecessary
because these guys are already NHL ready and would be the Oilers’ 2C come
Yes. The fear from some is that Edmonton might just have TOO
MANY centers next fall if they extend Derek Roy.
Well, I’m just here to remind you of two things.
1) The Oilers haven’t had this problem since Gagner was a
2) That would be a wonderful problem to have
The Oilers’ relative draft position should play absolutely
no part in the signing of Derek Roy. And, if it does, then the club has learned nothing from the debacle that they created for themselves because
they went into this season with no experience down the middle of the ice.
How quickly some people manage to forget the Oilers were (in
large part) undone because too much was expected of Leon Draisaitl as a raw NHL
rookie. Why would anybody want to go through that again?
“But McDavid and Eichel are special!”
Yes, they are. They have proven themselves to be a cut above
the rest and McDavid is on a level above Eichel even. Sidney Crosby said that
McDavid is better than he was at that same age. It’s incredible praise and the
numbers support the claim: Crosby scored
102 points as a rookie.
But let’s not forget also that the Penguins were terrible
that year. That was 102 points by Crosby that were essentially wasted on a team
that wasn’t able to compete. Their depth was brutal and they took a couple
years to build it around him AFTER he was there. The Oilers could have that
kind of depth BEFORE their most talented player arrives.
The object is to win games and you start getting there when
you add good players to your team, not when you switch them out constantly.
“But where would (our new shiny toy) play?”
Great question, I’m glad you asked. It may come as a shock
but even with Derek Roy the Oilers aren’t a great team. It turns out
that this version of the team is FILLED with AHL and superfluous talent. There
is plenty of room for talented players on the wings if necessary. My mock
lineup in the event that the Oilers draft first or second in June looks like this.
Hall RNH Eberle
Pouliot Roy Yakupov
Hendricks Gordon Klinkhammer
Lander McEichel Purcell
It’s really not a terrible lineup at all. It gives the
Oilers the opportunity to bring Leon Draisaitl (who is now killing it in
Kelowna and leading the WHL in Estimated Points per 60) slowly if necessary.
Most importantly, it doesn’t rob the Oilers of the experience it needs.
“But Lander isn’t a winger, you jerk!”
Somebody has to play the wing and the NHL is littered with
former centers playing the wing. Perhaps one day soon the Oilers wont have Boyd
Gordon or Derek Roy will walk away and then your beloved Lander will get to
play his natural position again and Leon Draisaitl can also take a spot on the
big club. Stamkos started on the wing. MacKinnon played on the wing. Heck,
Messier started on the wing. Lots of good players begin their NHL careers away
from their natural positions. It wouldn’t kill Lander and it sure as heck wouldn’t
kill McEichel if the Oilers were so lucky to draft him.
THEY OUTWEIGH THE CONS
The list of benefits for signing Derek Roy to an inexpensive
and short term extension outweigh the cons by far. In fact, from my perspective
it seems so obvious that even I’m wondering how the rug will be pulled out from
under it (because this is the Oilers and it’s always a trap).
1) It keeps more than 700 games of NHL experience in the top
six. We can’t possibly overstate how important that is on such a young team. The
top six drives your NHL club. They are the offensive engine of the team and the
last time I looked you still need to score goals to win games. The Oilers do
not have another offensively minded center with any other experience than the
misery of losing in an Oiler uniform.
2) It gives the coach lots of options. We touched on this
already. With Derek Roy in the 2C spot the Oilers can shelter their shiny new
draft toy to any degree they choose. They will not be exposing this kid the way
they exposed Leon Draisaitl. If players get hurt there will be options already
on the team that can take over duties at center as well. Above all else, there
would be NHL talent all the way through the lineup.
3) It gives the manager lots of options. A “surplus” of
centers means some of those regular wingers could become expendable. I don’t just
mean that the team can let players go for nothing, but more so that they could
move them for pieces they desperately need. MacTavish can go big game hunting
on the blueline dangling Jordan Eberle or he can get creative and retain salary
for Purcell and pick up depth or maybe a goaltender.
4) He is making Yak a player. Not to take all the agency
away from Yakupov, but Derek Roy looks like the best thing that ever happened
to former first overall pick. Roy is there to support Yakupov in a way
that nobody has ever done before at this level and the results are speaking for
themselves. Even though I am one of Yakupov’s biggest supporters, there’s no
question that it looked like he was heading down a path of mediocrity. A lot of
that might have just been bad luck (terrible PDO fuelled by a horrific on-ice
shooting percentage) but I don’t think anyone can deny that with Roy he is now
playing the best hockey of his life. Resigning Roy now doesn’t guarantee that
the good times will continue, but it sends the message that they still care
about his development. Yak turned down a chance to play on the top line because
he wanted to stick with Roy. He made a commitment to Roy and the Oilers could
do the same.
— OilersNation (@OilersNation) February 19, 2015
5) He’s already here. Yesterday a report came out saying that the most undesired place to play is Edmonton. The team is terrible, the weather is atrocious,
the media scrutiny is high, the fans are rabid, and there has been a coaching
carousel since MacTavish left. The best way to convince a player that this
could be a great place to play and live is to get them here first and let them
experience it first-hand. Well: mission accomplished. Roy is here, has found a
playing partner, has experienced more success per game than the rest of the
available players will see looking at the season as a whole, and he needs a new
contract. Passing on Roy means overcoming all the obstacles of attracting
players without the chance to let them experience it first. Good luck with
6) He has incredible hair. Edmonton’s style goes up significantly
with Derek Roy in the city limits.
The notion that there’s a scenario at the draft lottery
where it stops making sense to re-sign Roy doesn’t hold any water. Maybe
ESPECIALLY if the Oilers win the lottery or stick with the second pick
they should re-sign Derek Roy. So if the Oilers don’t want to ink him to a new
contract then let it be for some other reason than that they might want to make
room for another 18 year old. Let it be because his possession numbers are low
or because the team covets a more complete player. Let it be because his hair
is just too damn good looking. Literally any other reason to delay signing him
would make more sense than because of what might happen at the draft.