Derek Roy dealt to Dallas as Sabres pick up Steve Ott

Well, it was never a matter of if Derek Roy would ever be shown the door, but when. Turns out when was today.

The maligned center, who had spent his entire career in Buffalo, was sent to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy.

Roy, 29, had been with the Sabres since being drafted in 2001. A pending unrestricted free agent next season, the team’s desire to move him was evident.

While saying he “can’t wait to get started” with his new team, Roy admitted during a conference call that he was shocked when learned of the deal.

“It’s weird because I’ve never been traded before,” he said. “It was a weird situation, very emotional. I’ve been playing here my whole career. It was an emotional day for me.”

In return, Buffalo added even more toughness in Steve Ott.

Ott, 29, is entering his 10th season in the NHL after spending his entire career in Dallas. Known for a physical presence and as more of an agitator than an offensive threat, the former 1st round pick has 1,170 penalty minutes in 566 career games. His career high in goals was 22 in 2009-2010. With two years remaining on his contract, Ott will be looked to for some edge.

“I think more than anything else we needed to move the balance of skill versus the physical nature of our game, and become a tougher team to play against,” said Regier, who made the deal one day after signing 6-foot-8 forward John Scott as a free agent. “Steve can play and complement the higher-skilled guys and contribute in a lot of different ways. I think that he will be very valuable for us.”

“You need a blend of skill and grit and we were heavy on the skill side. The adjustment we wanted to make was to add to the grit side.”

Ott was fourth in the NHL last season with 278 hits in 74 games.

Also included in the deal was Pardy, 28, who spent parts of three seasons with the Calgary Flames before playing for the Stars last season. He added three assists in 36 games for Dallas.

The fact that the Sabres were able to part with Roy and yield a significant return right now was somewhat surprising. I had written off the idea of a move being possible thanks to two numbers: 4 and 5.5.

Roy’s $4 million cap hit is clearly a bargain for a player of his calibre, but the massive jump to actual salary likely limited the number of potential suitors. Any team with the cap space to take on a $4 million hit and had a need at center either had to have enough in the budget to swallow $1.5 million or had the assets to part with to even out the deal.

Honestly, I fully expected Roy to start the season in Buffalo and possibly last until the trade deadline when his value as a rental would peak. After dealing Mike Ribeiro at the draft, Dallas had the need, the room, and the interest. They even cleared more cap space, while only taking on an extra $300,000 in salary.

It’s a merciful end for the Sabres and Roy, as the relationship between fans and player had grown to hatred and the team’s inability to move him became an issue. Sources say the team had been legitimately shopping him for a couple seasons, and was often part of packages to acquire a star center. Obviously, that never came to fruition.

Roy had many memorable moments in Buffalo, whether the fans who reviled him are going to remember them or not. He stormed onto the scene in 2003 as a tenacious rookie, joining the team midseason after an impressive training camp for their unsuccessful playoff push. After starring in Rochester during the lockout of 2004-05, he was a key part of the young core on the 2005-06 team. His five-point effort in Game 1 against Ottawa that season is a franchise record performance.

Put on a line with Thomas Vanek and Maxim Afinogenov in 2006-07, Roy started showing signs of reaching his strong potential. Centering what was technically the team’s third line, he tallied 20 goals for the first of four times in his career and scored the winning goal in Buffalo’s only win of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Senators.

With the departure of the team’s top two centers in the summer of 2007, Derek was thrust up the depth chart. He responded by leading the team in scoring with career highs in goals (32), assists (49) and points (81). The team’s failure to make the playoffs in subsequent seasons turned his efforts into futile ones in the eyes of the fans. When he went down with a serious knee injury in December 2010, after an incredible start to the season where he registered a point-per-game, it was the beginning of the end.

Roy was obviously still hampered by injuries last season, and his production suffered. His 17 goals and 44 points in 2011-2012 were the lowest full-season totals of his career. In the end, it wasn’t going to last much longer than that.

While the general consensus is “Good riddance,” as a former captain heads to Texas, Roy has a significant place in the team’s recent history. Roy is 14th all-time in Sabres history with 427 points, 21st in games played with 549 and 16th in goals with 161. He had his share of moments, from his epic “Nurminen juggled it!” overtime goal in Atlanta back in 2004 to his final tally in Buffalo, the overtime winner against Toronto in April to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive in that wild 6-5 victory.

But with this deal, it’s time for a new chapter. For Roy, and for the Sabres.

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Posted on July 2, 2012, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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