Can Roy boost the Blues’ center group?


The first day of free agency is often marked by something bordering on lunacy, but every now and then, there’s a perfect match between a team and a player. Derek Roy might just be that guy for the St. Louis Blues.

A pivotal season

At 30, Roy’s career is at a fork in the road.

For years, he was a franchise player with the Buffalo Sabres, yet injuries and an off-year or two prompted them to trade him to the Dallas Stars. While he put up respectable numbers (22 points in 30 games), he never really “clicked” in Dallas, and the same can be said for his brief stay with the Vancouver Canucks.

Two or three years of turbulence helped the Blues sign Roy for a relative bargain at $4 million over one year, but they want him to be more than just a good deal.

Weak down the middle

It’s reasonable to argue that St. Louis has been faulty at the center position in recent years, at least compared to other areas that boast substantial talent.

The Blues have operated with Selke-quality winger David Backes at center for some time now, and that might be the case as well in 2013-14. Still, with Roy and Alexander Steen in the mix, it’s plausible that a weakness could actually morph into a solid strength next season.

Ken Hitchcock’s crew has weathered injuries and various surprises the last two seasons, so it’s probably not fair to say that they need Roy to produce.

A matter of expectations

That viewpoint probably changes if the Blues want to be a team that legitimately competes for the Stanley Cup (rather than a playoff spot), though.

In the end, both have a lot to gain or lose. At this point, St. Louis probably cannot settle for another first-round exit. Meanwhile, Roy stares down the prospect of becoming a journeyman player, particularly if this season doesn’t work out.

More from Blues day at PHT

Vladimir Tarasenko is their x-factor

Gauging the Blues’ trio of goalies

The importance of Alex Pietrangelo

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
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In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.

Kings, NHLPA announce settlement in Richards grievance

Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”

The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.

The NHLPA released a similar statement.

It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.

We’re starting to find out some details now:

How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?

Stay tuned.