Blues land a playmaking center in Derek Roy

News-DemocratJuly 6, 2013 

Remaining diligent in their pursuit of a center, the St. Louis Blues landed former Buffalo Sabres standout Derek Roy on Saturday with a one-year, $4 million deal.

The deal is pending a physical.

The 30-year old Roy reached the 60-point total in four straight seasons with the Sabres from 2006-2010. He had seven goals and 28 points in a combined 42 games last season with the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks.

He had three goals and six points in 12 games after being acquired by the Canucks at the trade deadline. Before that he had four goals and 22 points in 30 games with the Stars.

"This is a great opportunity to kickstart my career again, get on the right path and work hard," Roy said. "They have a great young team and some great young players. It's a tough team to play against, whenever you come into St. Louis you knew you were coming into a battle, so it's good to be playing for a team like that."

Roy has played previously for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock with Team Canada at the 2009 World Championships, so the pair know each other well.

"Hitch coached me and (Blues General Manager) Doug (Armstrong) was there as well, so it was a good experience and we had a good rapport among each other," Roy said. "That helped make my decision a lot easier."

Armstrong says Roy is the type of playmaker the Blues were looking for. The Blues also signed center Maxim Lapierre and pursued free-agent centers Vincent Lecavalier, Stephen Weiss and Valterri Filppula.

"We view it as a low-risk, high-reward type of situation," Armstrong said of the Roy signing. "He's 30 years old and he's a very good player, the type of player we think can have some success with our team."

Roy (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) is a feisty center whose best season was 32 goals and 81 points with Buffalo in 2007-08.

"I like to control the puck and one my best assets is the speed that I bring and my ability to control the puck in the middle," said Roy, who understands Hitchcock's overall system of using defense to create offense. "I'm excited to be part of a team like that where everyone cares about one goal and that's playing defense first and then going on offense. My best asset is probably my two-way game."

Armstrong agreed.

"Derek has a good relationship with Ken and he likes his style of coaching," Armstrong said. "It's a really good opportunity for Derek to re-enter that free-agent market a year from now, if we don't sign him before that, as a much better player."

Injuries have been a concern in recent years, including shoulder surgery in 2012. He also missed 46 games at the end of the 2010-11 season and six playoff contests because of surgery to repair his left quadriceps tendon.

"He played all year and hasn't had any problems, so we're doing our due diligence," Armstrong said. "When you're investing $4 million you want to cross all the T's and dot all the I's."

Roy said he believes he's healthy and ready to go after what he felt was a sub-par 2013 season.

"I was pretty mad about my season last year," he said. "I don't take failure too well, so I was really mad about it. I had a couple injuries and came off my surgery, so I didn't perform like I'm capable of."

After two surgeries in two years, Roy believes he is ready to contribute a a high level once again.

"The shoulder feels great," he said. "I had a couple lingering issues last year and those impacted my game. Now that's behind me and my shoulder's healthy and ready to go. I'm looking forward to contributing in a big way and being a big factor."

Armstrong said the Blues' current center group would include David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Roy and Lapierre, though Hitchcock has mentioned the possibility of playing Backes on the wing.

"I think it has a chance to be a very difficult group to defend," Armstrong said. "I think Ken's got a lot of different options. We have a lot of options and we've found a natural center iceman that can produce points."

Still ahead for the Blues are trying to sign restricted free agents Alex Pietrangelo, Chris Stewart and goalie Jake Allen.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or on Twitter @NormSanders

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