A few days after Nic Roy was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes by the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Erik Haula, it was suggested time would show this trade to be much different than it appeared on the surface.
A member of the Golden Knights brain trust said that the move wasn't a salary dump, but the organization saw a good player who can help the team for years to come.
As the 2019-20 season unfolded, these words kept coming to the fore as Roy grew as a player and eventually revealed himself to be an everyday NHL player.
At worst, Roy is a very good fourth line center. But as the 23-year-old was provided opportunity, he proved capable of playing a top-six role at either center or wing. He killed penalties and filled the net-front role on the power play.
On Wednesday, Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon announced a two-year contract extension for Roy with an average annual value of $750,000.
"This is so exciting," said Roy, from his Las Vegas home. "When I was traded here my goal was to earn another contract. I want to try and help this team and I think I can. It's a great organization and we have a lot of great players. This is a big day for me."
When the Hurricanes moved on from Haula at the trade deadline and traded him to the Florida Panthers, a conditional fifth round pick also came to Vegas.
Roy has seven goals and 22 points in 27 AHL games with the Chicago Wolves as well as five goals and 10 points in 28 NHL games. At 6-4, 200 pounds, Roy can also provide a physical presence.
"I have a big frame. When you watch the playoffs, being physical is important and it's an area of the game I can contribute," said Roy.
Trades are a funny thing. They can't be judged by the numbers of the past or in the immediate future. The nuance applied by scouts and GMs as they prepare to make a deal isn't trotted out to media and fans. Proprietary knowledge comes into play as do the needs of both organizations.
"I think this year saw me get more opportunity and I think I have proven I can play in the NHL. I think I can be a third line center and play on the PK but I also think if I'm with the right players, I can move up in the lineup and help out offensively and on the power play," said Roy. "I'll play wherever they want me to and whatever style they ask me to."
There's a guideline used in hockey scouting circles which says where a player fits on his National Team at World Juniors is likely where he'll fit on an NHL roster. So if a player slots in on the top line for Team USA, he'll likely do the same when he gets to the NHL.
Nic Roy played a middle six role for Team Canada at the 2017 IIHF U-20 World Championship on a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Julian Gauthier.
Roy was excellent in the tournament scoring three goals and one assist in seven games as Canada earned a silver medal, falling to Team USA in a gold medal game overtime shootout.
It's been all about progression for Roy during his time as a pro. Drafted by the Hurricanes he spent most of his time in that organization with the Charlotte Checkers. Last season he led his team to a Calder Cup Championship and was dominant in the final series defeating a Chicago Wolves squad which included VGK prospects such as Cody Glass, Nic Hague and Zach Whitecloud.
Over breakfast in Casper, Wyoming, this summer during the VGK Road Trip, Hague discussed Roy and the trade with Glass and myself.
"He's a beast. He won every draw in the series. Every time he took a draw, we started without the puck," stated Hague.
"Gee, thanks a lot Haguer," deadpanned Glass, who played center against Roy in that series.
Pete DeBoer didn't know much about Roy when he took over the Golden Knights bench but quickly became enamored with Roy.
"He's a big guy, and he's just growing into his body and getting some of that strength that you need to be able to create some room for yourself at this level," DeBoer said. "He's got a high IQ, he's highly skilled and he makes a lot of plays. He's good defensively. He's got a big upside."
Every player has finds his own path the NHL and Roy has now fully arrived. The big question for him now is how high he can climb.