In the 2019-20 Player Review series, we revisit and evaluate the individual performances of Vegas Golden Knights players from last year’s regular season and extended playoff format. NOTE: Only skaters who played in at least 20 games will be included.
Nicolas Roy was originally part of the Erik Haula trade with Carolina back in June of 2019; he was coming off a promising performance in the Calder Cup Playoffs and was expected to provide organizational depth at the center position.
He has become much more than that, however.
The former fourth-round pick (No. 96 overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft played just 28 regular-season games last season but was in the lineup for all 20 playoff games as a fixture in the Knights’ bottom six.
Season in review
Roy made his Golden Knights debut Oct. 27, 2019 against Anaheim; like many newcomers to Vegas, he scored a goal in his debut.
He played in just seven games through the end of 2019 but proceeded to suit up in 21 of the 28 remaining games, including all five in March leading up to the pause.
That being said, Roy was being shuffled to and from Chicago constantly, which never made a lot of sense, especially since he played well at both levels.
In his 28 regular-season games with Vegas, the Amos, Quebec native recorded five goals and 10 points, setting career highs (and firsts) across the board. Prior to the 2019-20 campaign, Roy had just seven games of NHL experience under his belt, all with the Hurricanes.
It took a while, but by the end of the season and throughout the playoffs, Roy was a core piece of Vegas’ bottom six.
The 6-foot-4 forward was effective in the regular season; he drove play and was responsible in his own end.
Roy finished first on the team in Corsi For percentage (60.15) and was in the top five in many categories among players who played in at least 20 games. Specifically, he finished second in shot share (59.46 percent), fourth in goal share (56 percent), fifth in scoring chance share (58.98 percent) and fourth in high-danger goal share (56.25 percent), all at 5-on-5.
The 23-year-old also put up strong numbers on a rate basis.
He finished fifth in goals per 60 (0.81) — trailing only Max Pacioretty, Reilly Smith, Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault — as well as fifth in individual expected goals per 60 (0.85), fourth in individual scoring chances per 60 (9.53) and first in individual high-danger Corsi per 60 (5.27).
Roy ranked second on the Knights in rush attempts per 60 (0.61) and had the fourth-lowest giveaways-per-60 rate (1.01). His 2.3 goals above replacement and 3.4 expected goals above replacement were first or second among regular bottom-six forwards.
However, Roy averaged just 10:34 of ice time per game, which makes his numbers all the more impressive.
He made the Knights better and made his teammates better, as evidenced in the chart below; the red squares indicate that all of those players were better off with Roy rather than without, and it wasn’t even close.
Clearly, the Knights recognized that.
By the time the season resumed, Roy was a regular, and he played in all 20 postseason games.
He helped the Knights win the round-robin tournament with a point in each game, and he also tallied an assist in Game 1 against Chicago, giving him a point in four straight to start the postseason.
In total, he chipped in one goal and eight points, four of which came in the final two rounds. He finished fifth among regular skaters in Corsi percentage (61.42) at 5-on-5.
Like many other Golden Knights skaters, Roy scored in his Vegas debut, a 5-2 win against Anahem. However, this wasn’t just Roy’s first goal as a Golden Knight, it was his first career NHL goal.
The goal was a beauty, as Roy weaved his way through defenders and, despite losing control at one point, stayed with the play and slammed home the puck for his first career goal.
Roy actually lost control of the puck for a second, but he still managed to get it past John Gibson. What an effort. pic.twitter.com/rZXXbEkxLg— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) October 28, 2019
There’s no question that Roy will be a key part of the Golden Knights’ plans moving forward.
He’s in the first of a two-year extension signed last April, which carries an AAV of just $750,000, making Roy one of Vegas’ best values.
The 23-year-old is off to a strong start in 2020-21, helping the third line look better than it did all of last year. He has one assist through the first four games of the season.
Roy’s versatility gives Pete DeBoer options, and one thing is for sure: Roy won’t be shuffling to and from the active lineup any time soon.
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