Roy Fills Canucks’ Centre-Less Void

There’s a new number 15 on the ice with the Vancouver Canucks and no, it’s not ex-Canucks Tanner Glass or Aaron Volpatti back for another spin in Vancouver. It is Derek Roy, a versatile centre who could be the solution to at least one of the Canucks’ problems. Acquired on April 2nd in exchange for prospect Kevin Connauton and a 2013 NHL Entry Draft second round pick, Roy showed a lot of promise in his first two games as a Canuck.

“I’ve seen a lot of him,” Chris Higgins told the Vancouver Sun, as he played against Roy regularly when he played for Montreal and Roy played for Buffalo. “He’s a real savvy player with the puck and he makes some really smart passes out there. He likes to win pucks in the corner and he’s good around the net so he’ll be a great addition for us.”

Roy is centering a line with Higgins and Jannik Hansen, and combined with the two on a a goal against the Edmonton Oilers in his first game.

“He saw me all the way,” Higgins told CBC. “The D overplayed him a bit and he feathered a beautiful pass over to me. It was a hell of a pass.” The line of Higgins, Roy and Hansen combined for eight shots that night and were continually putting pressure on the Oilers in the offensive end. They generated many chances, something the Canucks need to capitalize on since they have struggled to score despite a six game win streak in March and after getting shut out by Edmonton on March 30th.

If the Canucks had been able to acquire Roy earlier in the season, after Manny Malhotra was placed on the injured list and Ryan Kesler suffered yet another injury, the Canucks would probably have fared a lot better through the months of February and March. No longer will we see Alex Burrows be bumped down from the top line to play centre. The Canucks now have four healthy centers in Vancouver – Roy, Henrik Sedin, Andrew Ebbett and Maxim Lapierre – and have the option to recall Jordan Schroeder from Chicago, who has played well alongside Mason Raymond during his time with the Canucks this season. This depth gives Ryan Kesler the ability to ease back into the game, so he can play to his full potential and prevent further injuries. Of course, once he returns, the hardest part will be determining which centers do not play.

“I like the fact he’s been a winner, and an MVP at the Memorial Cup,” general manager Mike Gillis told CBC of Roy. “I like his points per game average, I like his play-making aspect and the opportunity to add another layer of offence was important.”

At 29 years old, Roy played eight seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, including a 32-goal, 81-point season in 2007-08. He played the first half of the 2012-13 season with the Dallas Stars before being traded to Vancouver, and had four goals and 22 assists as a Star. He sees little of the penalty box as well, having only taken two penalties so far this season. While he will not be able to replace the skill of Malhotra and Kesler in terms of face offs, he provides a ton of flexibility; head coach Alain Vigneault plans to use Roy on the powerplay, the penalty kill and during 5-0n-5. Roy is a very versatile player who seems to want nothing more then to win a Stanley Cup, and he knows that he has a very good chance of that with Vancouver.

“I’m going to try and bring leadership to the team, as well as speed and playmaking ability and finish goals,” Roy told canucks.com. “I’ll try to be an all round two-way player and hopefully we can go deep in the playoffs. Like I said, we have a good team here and we can do it, we just have to believe in ourselves.”

Little does he know, that his teammates, coaching staff, and the city of Vancouver believe in him too.

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