ST. LOUIS — For eight seasons, Derek Roy was one of the top playmaking centers in the Eastern Conference while suiting up for the Buffalo Sabres.
His journey to the other side of the league -- the Western Conference --included stints with Dallas and Vancouver last season before the Blues brought him to St. Louis with a one-year, $4 million contract.
Counted on to add scoring and speed and leadership, the 5-foot-9, 184-pound Roy believes the Blues are as good of a fit for him as he is for them.
"I wanted to go to a team that was contending and also go to a good team to win the Stanley Cup this year," said Roy, who had a combined seven goals and 28 points in 42 games last season with the Stars and Canucks. "They had great pieces here in the summer time and since I came they've added some more guys and signed some free agents, signed some other guys coming back.
"Everything's been great since I came here."
Now 30, Roy has battled his way through injuries the past two seasons. He underwent knee surgery two years ago and shoulder surgery last season, but pronounced himself good to go and has been flying throughout training camp between veteran wingers Brenden Morrow and Chris Stewart.
"He's good off the rush,' said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who watched Roy flourish under his coaching for Team Canada at the 2008 World Championships. "He's a guy that's a really competitive guy in his own way, he plays with a real edge."
One of the Blues' missing ingredients in recent years has been a true playmaking center. They have big centers and checking centers, but lacked someone like Roy whose priority throughout his career --along with scoring --has been making others around him better.
Roy had 26 goals and 69 points in 2009-10 with Buffalo and 28 goals and 70 points the years before that. He's not that removed from a 32-goal, 81 point season with the Sabres in 2007-08.
"It's work ethic and competing on the puck," Roy said. "I try to be around the puck in all areas of the game. It seems like the harder you work, the puck finds you."
Hitchcock has paired Roy and Stewart together since the start of camp, then added Morrow to the unit once he came aboard.
Stewart led the Blues with 18 goals and 36 points in 48 games last season and has twice had 28-goal seasons in the NHL.
"It's pretty easy with him," Roy said. "He's a skilled player, knows how to get to the areas, where to shoot the pucks. He's a goal scorer and as a playmaker I've got to find him. Whenever he's around the net I've got to find his stick."
Roy said he spent much of the preseason learning Stewart's moves and where he wanted the puck. He did the same once Morrow arrived, already familiar with Morrow's style.
"He's a great veteran player who works hard in the practices and games, plays with a lot of grit," Roy said. "He's going to fit well with this team and he's going to lead the way for sure."
The one-year contract could help both the Blues and Roy.
It gives Roy a chance to stay healthy and prove he can be a top playmaker again, perhaps setting up a larger payday down the road. It gives the Blues a chance to gain offense and benefit from his gritty style and veteran leadership.
"He is what he is defensively, there's going to be nights when he going to get played against size and he's going to be a little overwhelmed," Hitchcock said. "But he can really compete and hang onto the puck in small spaces for a little guy. He's not afraid to take a hit to make a play or to take a beating to make a play offensively.
"When he gets to competing at a high level, he's a very effective guy."
Right now Roy's line is being counted on for offense and intense play.
"We've just got to make sure we work hard," he said. "That's the No. 1 thing that we've got to do, work for each other and make plays. Stewie's a good shooter and so is Brenden, so all I have to is distribute the puck to them, get the puck in the corners and work in all areas."