The Vegas Golden Knights got an up-close look at their newest player this past season.
And I’m not talking about the 7:03 that center Nicolas Roy played for the Carolina Hurricanes in a 3-0 Vegas win on Nov. 3.
Roy played six games for the Hurricanes before being a mainstay for AHL Charlotte. He had 36 points (17 goals, 19 assists) for the Checkers during the regular season, but it was during the Calder Cup Playoffs where Roy showed he was a 6-foot-4 dominant presence. His 15 points (six goals, nine assists) were impressive, and somehow tied for FOURTH on the team.
But the Calder Cup Final, ironically against Vegas’ AHL affiliate the Chicago Wolves, was what impressed Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee the most. He had three goals and one assist in Charlotte’s five-game series victory against the Wolves.
“He stood out. We really didn’t have an answer for him,” McPhee said. “He’s a big man. I talked to some of our players that were in that series about him, and it seemed like every time they dropped the puck, he won the faceoff and we were chasing him. He was a big man that went hard to the net. He just stood out to us. He was a pretty dominant player.”
The Golden Knights acquired Roy from Carolina on Wednesday in the deal that sent Erik Haula to the bunch of jerks.
Most of the moves in the coming weeks that the Golden Knights need to make are almost 100 percent for cap purposes. Vegas is at about $86.2 million in salary after trading Haula. McPhee acknowledged that was a purpose to move the former 29-goal scorer to Carolina, but for hockey purposes, the Golden Knights liked the player they got in return.
“We’ve addressed a cap issue and we got a good young player,” McPhee said. “At training camp, we’ll decide if he’s ready to play here, and if so where. There will be lots of competition, which is what you want, but we just thought to get a 22-year-old player with this kind of upside that sort of rounds out our center ice.
“We’ve got skill guys, but to have a guy who can play the game really well defensively, win faceoffs, kill penalties ... he’s an intelligent player, too. Good hockey sense. There may be even more upside there than people would anticipate, so we’ll see how this plays out, but we like him a lot.”
Roy isn’t making the main roster unless something astronomical happens. The Wolves, however, are getting a decent player in return to fortify their top-nine.
He knows his role. He’s a big body with a nose for the net, and can cause havoc in the dirty areas.
“An aggressive power center who has the ability to dominate on the forecheck,” per Elite Prospects. “The first thing you will notice about Nicolas Roy is that he is a full-framed figure who powers through his strides and finishes his checks. Subsequently, you will notice his nose for the net; he cannot be knocked off stride easily and has a good set of hands around the net.”
It’s tough to pinpoint what kind of player the Golden Knights got. Is he someone that scored close to 40 points in 60 games, or a 15-point in 18-game kind of pace he had in the Calder Cup Playoffs? Dobber Prospects gave him an NHL certainty grade of 7.5/10. That’s not too bad for someone McPhee calls an “established player.”
Roy seems like the perfect fit to be a fourth-line/depth forward for Vegas should he somehow make the Golden Knights out of camp. At best, he could be a top-nine option on a potentially stacked Wolves team.
“After a good developmental season in 2017-18, Roy was hot out of the gate to start the year with 26 points in his first 33 games,” said Kevin LaBlanc of Dobber Prospects in March. “Although the second half of the campaign has not gone as well as the first from a scoring perspective, the center has been exposed to playoff-level intensity down the stretch. Roy will be an NHL player, but like most prospects, many times his deployment will determine his fantasy value.”