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.
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