Derek Roy has something to prove this upcoming season and the Nashville Predators were willing to give Roy an opportunity to reestablish himself in the NHL after signing the free agent to 1 year, $1 million contract Tuesday.
The 31-year old is coming off an unsuccessful year in St. Louis with just 9 goals in 75 games. Roy’s minutes decrease significantly, along with his point production, because of the tremendous depth the Blues had. Playing with Vancouver and Dallas (combined) the previous season, Roy averaged 18:36 of time on ice per game. The following season in St. Louis, his average ice time per game dropped to 13:37.
“I was always used to playing 19-20 minutes and then to get down to 10-13, that was tough,” Roy said. “That’s one of things I looked at in the summer, going somewhere where I could play and get back to player that I used to be. Nashville was one of the teams.”
With Mike Fisher out the next 4-6 months after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon, Roy will be given the opportunity to play the 19-20 minutes per game he is seeking.
Since entering the League in 2003-04 with the Buffalo Sabres, Roy has been known for his offensive play-making abilities. Roy’s style should fit nicely with the new system head coach Peter Laviolette will be instituting.
“I bring a lot of offense to the table,” Roy said. “I’ve done that my whole career. At the same time, I like to play both sides of the puck. I play defense first, then move quickly to the offensive zone. This year, there is going to be a lot offense from me and I’m willing to take on that role and willing to put up some numbers.
“[Laviolette] definitely plays an offensive game, which fits my game real well.”
The signing of Roy is just one of many moves GM David Poile has made to give Laviolette the correct assets for a successful, winning season. Acquiring James Neal via trade and Olli Jokinen and Mike Ribeiro via free agency has assisted in making the club more offensively stable, as well.
“David Poile is a great man that has a lot of hockey knowledge,” Roy said. “He is doing what is necessary for the team to win. Making that big trade for James Neal and losing two players who have been part of the organization for a long time was a tough move. It just shows how much they want to win. It is great being part of an organization wanting to win and looking forward to winning a Stanley Cup.”
There was a reason Roy saw his salary drop $3 million from last season. Roy has been battling injuries in recent seasons and has had to undergo shoulder surgery twice. In attempts to keep his shoulder and the rest of his body healthy, Roy moved to Toronto this summer to train with former NHL-er Gary Roberts.
“A bunch of NHL players train with him and its been great,” Roy said. “Working out everyday and working out with some of the best athletes around, that’s been good. We are skating and working out everyday, so that’s good for my health. It is a nice place for athletes who need to take care of their body and to go in shape and stay in shape.”
Prior to the first shoulder surgery in December 2010, Roy played in 469 career games totaling 383 points (144 g, 239 a). Afterwards, his career went on a bumpy ride. He underwent his second shoulder surgery during the lockout in 2012, but was able to play 30 games with Dallas in the shortened year before being traded to Vancouver at the trade deadline. In the 2013 off-season, St. Louis signed him. There, he felt he was not being given the minutes he deserved (as mentioned earlier).
“It’s tough with injuries the last few years of my career,” Roy said. “It’s tough going into the summer not training and all you’re doing is rehabbing the injury and trying to come back that season. It has been a tough few years bouncing around. Hopefully [Nashville] is going to be good for me. This summer, I will get into the best shape possible. I’m feeling great right now and at the end of the summer I’ll feel even better. Get that out of the way, and focus on the season and hopefully not have to worry about injuries.”
Roy stated that a lot of teams were “involved” in attempting to sign him. With Jason Spezza and Ryan Kesler turning Nashville away, what made the Ottawa, Ontario native want to play in the Music City?
He said: “We had a game once, I remember, playing with Buffalo and was during a TV timeout and team was just sitting there trying to draw up a few plays. The crowd was really cheering for the team the whole TV timeout. We all looked at each other on team and said ‘That’s pretty cool.’ I don’t think [the fans] get enough credit throughout the league. The city of Nashville is just a great city, great weather, really friendly people.”
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.