Any article about the 2017-18 Anaheim Ducks is going to have some mention of the plethora of injuries that have plagued the team. Just when Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg returned to the lineup and Ryan Kesler showed signs of progress, the injury bug struck again.
Veteran stalwart and leading point producer Corey Perry suffered a knee injury against Carolina on Dec. 11—the same opponent against whom Getzlaf fractured his cheekbone when a puck came up and hit him in the face on Oct. 29. It didn’t look good at all for Perry, but the week-to-week prognosis that followed seemed mild compared to what could have been.
In any event, the Ducks will have to go through at least a somewhat significant stretch of time without Perry in the lineup, which means that players who were not really on the immediate depth chart going into the season will continue to see ice time and be relied upon to produce.
One of those players is diminutive rookie winger rookie Kevin Roy, who has been a nice shot in the arm for an Anaheim team in need of offense.
Roy Gets His Opportunity (Take 1)
Injuries are never a good thing, but they’ve afforded the skilled Roy the opportunity to show what he can do at the NHL level. The Ducks’ fourth-round selection (97th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Roy spent a full four seasons at Northeastern University, taking him to just about age 23 before he finally signed his first professional contract in April of 2016.
Prior to that, Roy clearly demonstrated that he was a scorer at the collegiate level, compiling 150 points (65 goals and 85 assists) in 130 games over four seasons with the Huskies. He spent last season in the AHL, putting up a respectable 46 points (16 goals and 30 assists) in 67 games for the San Diego Gulls during his first professional hockey campaign.
Roy had shown continued improvement in the AHL this season, tallying 11 points (including four goals) in 10 games. Based on that, he became a pretty obvious call-up candidate for the Ducks in light of their depleted lineup.
Somewhat due to continued injuries but also a result of his steadily improving play, Roy has seen an uptick in his minutes since his initial call-up. Over his first nine NHL games, Roy averaged 11:59 of ice time. Over his next six games, though, that average jumped up to 16:03 per game.
Naturally, Roy’s raw production was lower in those initial nine games, as he only scored one goal (Nov. 15 against the Boston Bruins). Once he started getting more minutes and a look in the top six with some more skilled players, Roy started scoring more, lighting the lamp three times in the next six contests while adding an assist.
As unfathomable as it might seem for the Ducks to be getting healthy, that did start to happen, and for Roy, that meant a demotion back to AHL San Diego just as he had started to find traction in his game with Anaheim.
Roy Gets His Opportunity (Take 2)
Of course, what is fathomable for this season’s iteration of the Anaheim Ducks is, well, more injuries. So Perry’s injury Monday against Carolina fit their displeasing narrative much better than the notion that they might actually soon field a team near full health.
For Roy, though, it was a pleasing narrative in that he was getting another chance to continue what he started with the Ducks. After the Ducks demoted Roy the Monday of the game against the Hurricanes, Perry’s exit from that contest necessitated a reversal of course for. Roy had made it from Anaheim to San Diego—not exactly a long trip—and even had himself a nice steak dinner before he was summoned back to Anaheim.
“I got to go to dinner, then they called me to come back,” Roy said. “I was pretty happy.”
“We didn’t know he was going to have to do a U-turn on the I-5,” head coach Randy Carlyle joked, while also revealing his assimilation into California’s culture by adding ‘the’ in front of ‘I-5.’ “But he’s still a young guy cutting his teeth and he’s still got a huge learning curve. He finds ways to put pucks in the net.”
That’s exactly what Roy did in his first game back. With the Ducks in St. Louis Thursday to kick off a six-game road trip, it was Roy who sparked Anaheim to an important 3-1 victory over the Blues. The rookie scored twice in the first half of the third period to stake the Ducks to a 3-1 lead.
In 17 games with Anaheim, Roy has already scored six goals and in so doing has contributed to the Ducks’ ability to stay in the hunt despite numerous key players missing significant time. If the Ducks ever do get close to full health again, Roy could very well be the odd man out as we’ve already seen. Then again, if he keeps producing, he could conceivably force Anaheim’s hand in keeping him with the parent club.