There has been a lot of change to Oil Country over the past
few weeks and almost all of it has been for the good. The lottery win has been
instrumental in kicking off a completely new era in Edmonton Oiler History. They
hired their first proven/competent GM since Sather, the team is on the verge of
hiring one of the two marquee coaches on the market, and obviously we are just
a month and a half away from choosing the best prospect in a decade on Draft
Day. Almost everyone associated with the team is ecstatic but it hasn’t been
good news for everybody. MacTavish had the rug pulled out from under him
publicly. Todd Nelson twists in the wind knowing full well he will be passed
over again. And, Derek Roy saw his odds of signing on with the Oilers drop like
Now there’s still hope for Derek Roy if he wants to stay
with the club but things have gone radio silent with regards to the team
potentially signing him since the changeover.
On the very day the Pete Chiarelli was spotted in Edmonton,
MacTavish told Bob Stauffer that he was still very interested in signing Derek
Roy even after winning the Lottery. His words, “No, we’d like to have Derek
back. We haven’t had any success in doing that to this point but we’re still
very interested in having Derek back.”
It would just be a few days later that the Oil would remove
the man who said he wanted to sign Roy from the position to do so.
Unsurprisingly, signing Derek Roy has not been Peter Chiarelli’s number 1
priority, but every day that passes makes it seem much more likely that Roy
will not be re-signed.
THE CASE FOR ROY
Unlike several of my blogger colleagues, I like what Derek Roy brought
to the team. From my seat it looked to me like Derek Roy was exactly what the
doctor ordered for Edmonton’s 2nd line and Nail Yakupov in
particular. He embraced a role as Yak’s centerman and the duo built some real
chemistry. In fact, I think it’s impossible to make a case for Roy without
explicitly talking about the turnaround of Nail Yakupov.
Yakupov looked lost in the year and a half he played under
Dallas Eakins but in that time he never really got a fulltime centerman to work
with. He kept getting bounced around, sat in the third period, pushed down the
lineup, and forgotten in key scoring situations. The centerman he spent the
most time with over his first 3 seasons was traded for Purcell, another winger.
Yak played 180 minutes 5v5 with Draisaitl last season and managed just 1 goal on 22 shots
in that entire time. Having a 0.33 P/60 as a top 6 winger is…brutal.
Enter Derek Roy.
Roy made it his business to make Yakupov more successful
offensively and business was good. He knew he had a shooter and focused on
getting his man the puck. With Draisaitl Yak was taking 7.33 shots per 60 with
Leon Draisaitl (still good) but that shifted up to 8.65 shots per 60 with Derek
Roy. At the end of the day Yakupov would finish with the highest shots per 60
on the entire club (min 200 minutes played 5v5).
In total Yakupov would score 21 points at even strength. 75%
of that would come playing with Derek Roy despite the fact that he only played
with Roy for 50% of his total 5v5 minutes. Playing with Roy compared to playing
with Draisaitl, Yak went from 0.33 P/60 with the rookie to 1.68 P/60 with the
The Oilers are a team comprised mainly of youth with more
youth on the way. Derek Roy has the one thing that none of these kids have,
experience. He represents 738 games of NHL experience. That’s more than Hall
and Eberle combined. Edmonton is short on experience and this guy can add quite
THE CASE AGAINST ROY
The issue is that two things happened at the same time as
the Yakupov turnaround. The Oilers did indeed acquire an experienced 2nd
line center in Roy, but they also replaced Dallas Eakins with a Todd Nelson. We
can’t give Roy all of the credit because a fair amount also belongs to Edmonton’s
Todd Nelson empowered Yakupov with support and playing time.
Now Todd Nelson is unlikely to be the team’s Head Coach next fall, but Todd
McLellan has long been considered something of an offensive genius and Nelly
might be convinced to stick around as an Associate. On paper that sounds
fantastic for players who possess high end talent like Nail Yakupov, among many
The team probably doesn’t feel like they need to hedge their
bets on the offense by signing Roy the way they did with the relatively
unproven Nelson. Todd McLellan can likely be counted to get the most out of
whoever that 2C will be, and it looks like there’s every chance that player
will be Connor McDavid.
Connor McDavid of the 169 points in 67 games (regular season
and playoffs) is going to be drafted and is going to earn a spot on the Oilers
in their top 6. Now that could be on the wing, but it he can be insulated by
the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Boyd Gordon enough to make starting him
down the middle viable.
It’s hard to actually watch Connor McDavid play and still be
concerned that Nail Yakupov might struggle with him. Leon Draisaitl is still a
fantastic prospect, but goodness this kid is special.
And what of Roy himself? All the experience in the world doesn’t
change that he’s 5’9” and less than 190 pounds. He isn’t going to add the
heaviness than Chiarelli likes. He might work well with Yakupov but he’s still
just another small forward on a team with a perceived size problem.
Then there’s the issue of his possession numbers. Playing
with Yak he took on favourable Zone Starts but still ended his time in Edmonton
with a 46.9% CF. Those just aren’t great numbers given that his line started
more in the offensive zone than the defensive zone.
Roy produced about a half a point per game with Edmonton and
some are projecting McDavid to score as many as 80+ points as a Rookie. If Roy
can’t hope to produce what the incoming teenager can produce and he isn’t pushing
the river of possession then there isn’t much else left for him. Faceoffs, maybe?
Unfortunately he was 43.6% on the Faceoff dot this past season so he can
probably leave that off his resume.
SO DOES HE STAY OR DOES HE GO?
I’m going to suggest something here that is maybe
unexpected. I think the Oilers should absolutely find a spot for Roy, just not
as the 2C of the team. Connor McDavid is an unstoppable force and should take
that 2nd line Center spot handedly in camp. The Oilers should sign
Derek Roy as a replacement for Teddy Purcell.
Derek Roy is certainly going to cost no more than half of
what Purcell makes and while he is significantly smaller, they both play the
same size. Purcell is not a bad player, really, but he will be making more
money than his role on the club should afford him and he can’t sub in down the
middle as Roy could if injury hits the team (doesn’t it always?). I would
rather have “too many” centers on the team than too little and having another
veteran who can play as a pivot is a big positive.
Realistically, however, I don’t think Roy fits into
Chiarelli’s plan. The new GM and President will be eager to put his own stamp
on the team and with 2C effectively sewn up already he has probably set his
sights on the Defense.
Chiarelli wants heavy and Derek Roy doesn’t qualify.
The team has other priorities and what made sense to
MacTavish probably seems like gibberish to the new man in charge. The GM wanted
him on a Wednesday and was replaced on that Friday. Then there’s been nothing.
Will Chiarelli sign him? I am doubtful.