Roy shows signs of his go-to persona

Derek Roy stood before his stall in the Sabres’ dressing room long after the game ended Sunday afternoon and talked about better days earlier in his career. He could go back to the earliest days of his career and find coaches who pointed toward him as a common denominator for success.

“I was a go-to guy in Kitchener when we won the Memorial Cup my last year,” Roy said. “I played in the world juniors. It was a great year. I played in Rochester and was the go-to guy right away. It was fun. … When we lost Danny [Briere] and [Chris] Drury, I had a good season. I just tried getting better and better.”

Check the record, and you’ll find accuracy in his account. Roy was a dominant player while climbing the ranks and a good one in the NHL. He had 20 points in eight games in Rochester before he was summoned to the Sabres for good in 2005-06, finishing the year with 15 points in 18 playoff games.

The Sabres a year later pointed toward his success with Thomas Vanek when they decided Briere and Drury, their top two centers while reaching the conference finals in consecutive years, were expendable. Roy’s response was 32 goals and 81 points in 78 games, a point total that left him ninth among NHL centers.

And when things turned sour, when he vanished in the 2009-10 playoffs against Boston, when the Sabres took off last year on an incredible second-half run and made the playoffs without him, when their scoring fell off and players looked stale this year — he was the guy people pointed toward as a common denominator for failure.

“It comes with the territory,” Roy said. “When you’re supposed to be scoring goals and you’re not scoring goals, it’s your fault. If you want to be that guy in the spotlight … that’s your job. It’s fun to be in that position when things go right, but it’s not fun to be in that position when you lose games. I like being the go-to guy.”

One Response to Roy shows signs of his go-to persona

  1. SabresFan220 says:

    This article makes a false claim I want to clear up immediately. Drury and Briere were never both considered expendable. The Sabres intended to resign Drury, who both fans and management considered to be the better leader and most important of the 2. Drury never made his intentions to leave Buffalo known until he had already agreed to sign with the Rangers. The Sabres were even matching the Rangers' offer for Drury, but he did not care, despite what he may have told the media he never intended to stay and had never informed the Sabres of that fact.

    Of course, since Drury was the primary concern, Briere signed with Philly on July 1st as was expected. Briere was the one who wanted to stay in Buffalo, but with their sights set on keeping Drury it was Briere that was deemed expendable. Had the Sabres known Drury's intent to leave Briere certainly would have been retained in his place. Management had no intention of allowing them both to walk, but Drury screwed them when he was their primary target.

    Briere and Drury both walking forced the Sabres to use Roy as a top 2 center before anyone in the organization felt he was ready to assume that role. He and Connolly were expected to fill those offensive roles, and at least for 1 season Connolly was able to do that. Injuries then derailed Tim Connolly and eroded his offensive abilities, forcing Roy into a #1 center role he was not suited for. However, with Connolly unable to stay in the lineup Roy kept the top center spot by default.

    Yes, he has had a couple seasons with good numbers, and at times he's looked like a #1 center. However, even before last season's serious injury Sabres fans questioned Roy's long term ability as a #1 center. Now especially following this injury which has without question limited what he seems to now be able to do, Roy does not look like a #1 center on any team. Everyone seems to agree he's a top 6 forward, but I think 2nd unit is where he belongs. As secondary scoring to a team with an established top unit Roy will flourish. He is not however a player you want wearing a leadership letter on your team. He does not lead by example, he is a supporting cast character, not the guy who stands up in your locker room.

    The team's wholesale underachievement this season came at a bad time for Derek Roy. Is it fair to put the blame on him for not scoring when he's coming off of a serious injury that ended his season last December? Aside from Vanek and Pominville, who have carried the team's offense and leadership all season, no one else has stepped up. Have the Sabres misused Roy, claiming him as a #1 center? I think so. Could he still be very effective on another team, yes I think he could. But with his stock at an all time low will the Sabres seek to move him? That is the question.

     I see Derek Roy as a cheaper version of Jeff Carter. The 2 of them are so similar it's uncanny. The difference is that Jeff Carter benefitted from an incredible offensive supporting cast in Philly that is nonexistent in Columbus. Carter disappears in the playoffs, so it makes perfect sense to bury him in a city that will never see the playoffs anyway. Roy isn't much different, aside from 1 playoff run as a supporting cast member and not a go to guy. Acquiring Roy will be a smarter move for some other team than going after Carter. Yes, Roy's contract expires after next season, but it is better than having a slug in Carter bog you down for another 8 or 9 years.

    I believe the Sabres know Roy is gone after next season at the latest, and while his name is thrown about in trade rumors this season I don't know if he'll be moved. The Sabres need more center depth, whether that comes in the form of prospects or high draft picks they can use to get some. I doubt any team plans to send anything higher than likely a late 2nd rounder to Buffalo for Roy, much less a high end center prospect. It may be a smarter move for Buffalo to hang onto Roy and see if his numbers aren't back up next season, and with them his trade value. To sell off Roy for less than he's worth could set back Buffalo a couple years, and I don't think they can afford to do that.

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