The Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres had been talking for months. After missing the postseason and beginning the work of renovating their rosters, they decided to pull the trigger Monday.
Center - DAL
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 27 | PTS: 44
SOG: 176 | +/-: -7
The Sabres got feistier by acquiring forward Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy from the Stars, while Dallas added speed and skill by getting center Derek Roy in return. It's a deal Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk said was a long time in the making.
"I had numerous discussions with Darcy [Regier, Sabres GM] over several months," Nieuwendyk said in a conference call after the deal was made. "I knew his needs and he knew mine. It finally worked out."
Nieuwendyk had dealt veteran center Mike Ribeiro to Washington 10 days ago, and now is looking at Roy, 29, to step in as the No. 2 center behind All-Star Jamie Benn.
"It was a hole that we needed to fill, something that had been talked about for months leading up to this," Nieuwendyk said. "Having the opportunity to acquire a player like Derek Roy, who is only 29 years old and is a proven point producer in this League at a position where it's very rare to find -- seems like it was a real good fit for us.
"We have changed the look of our hockey club, and we have two centermen that we feel real confident about."
Roy has played all eight of his NHL seasons with the Sabres and averaged 73 points per season from 2007-08 through 2009-10. He was scoring at a point-a-game pace in 2010-11 when he sustained a serious quad injury that derailed his season. Roy was able to play 80 games in 2011-12 but managed only 17 goals and 44 points. Nieuwendyk said the Stars' medical staff was satisfied that Roy's leg is fine.
"I think probably a change of scenery will be welcomed by him," Nieuwendyk said. "He has been the guy in Buffalo for quite some time, and when you get a serious injury like that, it takes a little time to get back. But scouts in the East felt his game was coming back."
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The 5-foot-9, 185-pound player broke into the NHL with Buffalo in 2003-04 after being selected by the Sabres in the second round (No. 32) of the 2001 NHL Draft. Since then, Roy has more assists (266) and games played (549) than any other Sabre, and scored the third-most goals (161) and points (427).
"He sees the ice well," Nieuwendyk said. "He makes his linemates better."
While saying he "can't wait to get started" with his new team, Roy admitted during a conference call that he was shocked when he 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."
While Roy makes his living as a slick playmaker and scorer, Ott makes his as a pest who also can contribute offensively. He was the Stars' first pick in the 2000 NHL Draft (No. 25) and had spent his entire NHL career with Dallas, totaling 85 goals, 135 assists and 1,170 penalty minutes in 566 regular-season games. He scored 11 times and added 28 assists for 39 points in 2011-12, to go along with 156 penalty minutes.
"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.
"It's something I pride myself in, being at the top of leading the League in hits every single year, playing a physical, hard, complete style of game," he told team's website. "That's what I want to bring. I’m not changing my style. That’s something I want to do. I want to be as consistent as possible, playing a mix of hard hockey with some skill set along with it."
Judging by Ott's first Twitter message after the deal, Regier will get just what he was looking for.
"Now to my new Team Buffalo, I can't wait to Rock the East," he wrote.
Pardy, 28, had three assists and 16 penalty minutes in 36 games with the Stars in 2011-12, his lone season with Dallas after three seasons with Calgary. In 183 NHL games, he has four goals, 25 assists and 157 penalty minutes.
It was a trade involving two teams involved in different kinds of renovation projects. While the Sabres added muscle and grit, the deal came one day after the Stars signed Ray Whitney, a Second-Team All-Star left wing last season.
Nieuwendyk said it's the kind of trade teams make after coming up short of their objectives.
"Change is sometimes hard for people to understand, but sometimes it's a necessity as well," he said. "We are a team that has been real close the past couple of years, but we haven't made the playoffs in four years.
"I believe the changes we've done have made our hockey club better."