The Blues are well known for losing out in free agency, mostly due to the team’s lack of financial success.
While other teams were signing some of the big names available, the Blues picked up Keith Aucoin. Not a bad signing, but not one that anyone is going to jump up and down for either.
Finally on Saturday the St. Louis Blues managed to land a playmaking center which they so coveted. The problem is that they got the one that no one else seemed to want.
The signing of Derek Roy fit the Blues mentality in so many ways.
GM Doug Armstrong was not willing to break the bank just to get a top free agent. In the past Armstrong has voiced several times that he believes teams get star players through the draft, not free agency.
Roy signed just a one-year deal, check another box off on your list. Armstrong isn’t willing to commit to someone he has only seen on a small scale and most definitely not a player who hasn’t suited up in a note.
Roy is set to make $4 million this season; check another box. With a contract under the dreaded $5 million mark, Armstrong has basically kept to every rule he has about signing a player.
Finally, and the most painful of all, check whatever boxes are left when you look at who the Blues signed. It is Derek Roy, a player that showed great promise years ago but now spends more time off the ice recovering that putting up points on the ice.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great, low-risk option for the Blues, but the question has to be raised as to why. Shouldn’t the Blues use their surplus on offense to bundle a couple of guys together in hopes of scoring a true top-end talent? I guess not.
It is a good signing. It is cheap, low-risk high-reward, and will help the Blues improve. I just can’t say that I am very excited about it. I would rather have seen the Blues sign Mikhail Grabovski than Roy who has been passed during the last year. There is a reason Vancouver didn’t want to bring him back; there is a reason that Dallas was willing to trade him; there is a reason that Buffalo was willing to move him.
Still, the Blues needed a playmaking center, and they got one in Roy.
Giving him a one-year deal is asking him to play for a contract (see above, this is typical Army). The Blues need to find offense and Roy wants to make big money, so maybe this is a way for both sides to get what they want.
MAYBE is the key word. It could also be another Paul Kariya situation in which we signed him too late and lost out on spending money on a real producing player. Ok, ok, I know what you are thinking, Kariya was older and Roy didn’t sign a multi-year deal. It still could hurt the Blues if they choose to move another player to make room in salary.
The Blues were smart to make sure that Roy could pass a physical. With a torn left quad and shoulder surgery not too far off, Roy’s performance had declined in ways that most would have expected. If he wants to play with the Blues he will be expected to be in his best shape and a physical is just the first step in finding out where he needs to improve.
When Roy was on his game, he was an elite player. If the Blues can get that type of production from him, Armstrong might just be up for GM of the Year again.
Compared to fellow full-time centers, Derek Roy tied for 11th in goals and was 13th in points between 2006-07 and 2009-10. He was basically scoring at the same rate as Anze Kopitar, and exceeded the production of Brad Richards, Danny Briere, Mike Richards and Paul Stastny. There is no denying that he was an impressive player up until that point.
The problem is, that ever since 2010-11, he has been declining.
Bernie Miklasz put together a great rap sheet on the guy. Check it out:
IN THE FOUR SEASONS ENDING IN 2009-2010:
Goals per game: 0.34.
Points per game: 0.90
Faceoff win percentage: 50.3
Goals per game: 0.22
Points per game: 0.68
Faceoff win percentage: 48.4
So what should the Blues expect to be getting? Well, at 3o, Roy isn’t compeletly used up. He could use a comeback and perhaps St. Louis is the team that could show him his scoring ways again. Then again, at 30 and injury prone, Roy may not be exactly what the Blues were hoping to score in this year’s free agent class.
Since Andy McDonald retired, many fans have wondered who his replacement could be. Well, Roy may not be as fast, but he does have great speed.
Surely coach Ken Hitchcock will be looking to use Roy in the same way that he did with Andy Mac. Hopefully his speed will help the Blues get up the ice in a hurry and he can dish the puck to the guys who need to be putting it in the net.
The major problem that I have with the signing is that the Blues now only have about $8 million remaining in salary-cap space. That is an issue because Armstrong needs to lock up remaining restricted free agents Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart and Jake Allen.
Unless Tom Stillman just won the powerball, it looks like the Blues are going to be making some trades in the coming weeks. Not only can they probably not get under the cap with Stewart and Pietrangelo for 2013-14 as they sit, but they are not a cap team. So who will be dealt? Don’t be surprised if fan favorite T.J. Oshie is moved. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Patrik Berglund moved either since the Blues went out and signed a few NHL quality centers.
So what are your opinions on the signing? Let us know in the comments below.
LET’S GO BLUES!