Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Roy Makes Sense at the Right Price

With the trade deadline looming, there have been much fewer trades and trade rumors than there have have been in most years. Reasons for this include the fact that there is much more league parity than there has been in the past. 12th place in the West is only 5 points from being the final slot in the playoffs. And 13th in the East is only 8 points out of 8th position. Additionally, as Lyle Richardson of The Hockey News noted, with the CBA set to expire in September, GMs are wary of adding too much cap without knowing the cap limit for next year. So when there are trade rumors, hockey fans lean forward and take notice. One rumor that has me perking my ears up is the continual murmur that the Blackhawks are pursuing a trade for Derek Roy.

But does adding Derek Roy make sense for the Hawks?

Since the beginning of the year, the hockey minds have all been pointing at the Hawks' lack of depth down the middle. "They need a second-line center," they would say. Toews is the obvious first-line center. Dave Bolland, being an energy guy and a scrappy player is an obvious third-line center. Marcus Kruger really was too inexperienced to be on the second-line, so he was pushed to the fourth line. Sharp used to play center, but after his explosive year back at left wing last year, the Hawks were unwilling to move him to center again. Strapped for options, the Hawks decided to put Kane at center. Despite my doubts, Kane actually did very well at center. But after Kane's numbers started to drop off, the Hawks put him back at right wing. Since then, Andrew Shaw has been a pleasant surprise in Chicago, but like Kruger, his inexperience makes him an unlikely solution as a second-line center. With the trade deadline nearing, it's time to start looking for that second-line center again.

In January, Chicago made a small blip in the trade market by acquiring Brendan Morrison. As a veteran, Morrison could center the second line and possibly help teach some of the young players to be better two-way players. However, with very little offensive upside, being 36 years old, and being due for a new contract next year, Morrison is unlikely to be an answer beyond this season.

Derek Roy missed most of last season with a leg injury, ending a streak of 20+ goals per season at 4 years. Roy's numbers are down this year, too. Posting only 11 goals in 53 games, Roy is on pace for only 17 goals this season. However, this could help the Hawks make a more affordable trade. The Hawks have a depth of promising, young players who might be enticing for the Sabres. Jeremy Morin, Brandon Saad, Brandon Pirri, and Jimmy Hayes are great guys to have in the system, but the fact is that the Hawks don't have room to promote them all and won't have room for some time. If the Hawks are able to pair one of these guys with one of our current roster players, the Hawks could have one of the pieces they need to make a strong playoff push.

Stalberg might also be a nice trade piece for Roy. Stalberg has more goals than Roy this season and seems to be showing signs of the player the Hawks thought they were getting when they traded for him prior to the 2010-11 season. Also, the Sabres are thin at LW right now. With Cody McCormick down, the Sabres only have three left wings. Although Stalberg has been a nice surprise this year, his loss would not compare to the potential gain of being stronger up the middle. A lot has been made of the Hawks' weakness on D (a very valid point), but think about the potential defensive upside of adding another talented center. A good center is able to win faceoffs, keeping the puck off of opponents' sticks, they can backcheck and help the defense, and they can score and dish the puck. Roy could meet all these needs and bring the Hawks back into the discussion of Cup contenders this year.

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