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Stars address need with trade for Sabres' Derek Roy

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk continues to make big changes to theDallas Stars. Making his second significant trade of the offseason, Nieuwendyk acquired center Derek Roy from Buffalo in exchange for forward Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy.

The speedy and skilled Roy will help fill the void left by the departure of center Mike Ribeiro, who was traded to Washington last week for 21-year-old center Cody Eakin and a second round draft pick.

“With Mike Ribeiro going out and Cody Eakin coming in with only 30 games of experience, it was a hole we needed to fill,” said Nieuwendyk. “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 that is very rare to find, it seemed like it was a really good fit for us.”

The 5-9, 185-pound Roy, who shoots left, has 427 points (161 goals, 266 assists) in 549 career games. He’s topped the 60-point mark twice in his career, hit the 70-point mark one time and set a career high with 81 points (32 goals, 49 assists) in 2007-08. He’s played 41 playoff games for the Sabres, registering 25 points (7 goals, 18 assists) and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals twice.

Roy has spent his entire career with the Sabres, helping them to two straight Eastern Conference Finals from 2005-07.

“We’ve changed the look of our hockey club and we have two centermen we are really excited about in Jamie Benn and Derek Roy,” said Nieuwendyk.

It’s a big change for the speedy, skilled Roy, who has spent his entire eight-season NHL career with the Sabres.

“It was a shocker,” said Roy, who was notified of the trade by Sabres GM Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff. “It was weird because I have never been traded before. It was a weird situation, very emotional. I played there my whole career. It was a very emotional day for me. But on the other hand, I am excited to join the Dallas Stars and I can’t wait to get started.”

It will be a fresh start for Roy, who is coming off a couple of rough seasons where injuries took a toll. In 2010-11 he missed the final 46 games of the regular season and six playoff games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn quad tendon. Last summer he injured a hamstring while training, which slowed him down in 2011-12.

“It’s feeling great now and I can’t wait to get back on the ice and get going,” Roy said.

“I think a change of scenery will be welcomed by him,” said Nieuwendyk. “He’s been the guy there in Buffalo for quite some time and you go through a significant injury and it takes a little time to get back. Our scouts who watch him in the East felt his game was coming back late in the season, he was getting his speed back. He’s still a very gifted player. He sees the ice well, he makes his linemates better and another summer of training and he should be good to go.”

Roy is in the final year of a six-year, $24 million dollar contract. He’ll make $5.5 million this season with a salary cap hit of $4 million. The trade to bring him to Dallas didn’t happen overnight or in the last few weeks. Nieuwendyk said he and Regier had been talking for a few months before the deal fell into place.

“He knew my needs, I knew his needs and eventually it just seemed to work out to the right fit. It’s not easy to accomplish,” Nieuwendyk said. “When you are talking about centerman of Derek Roy’s abilities, it has to be a good fit for both teams and I think both teams feel they are coming away happy.”

“I want to thank Steve Ott for all he has done for our franchise. He’s a popular player. He’s done some great things for our franchise. He’ll be a popular player in Buffalo as well. I want to thank Adam Pardy, too. He had a difficult transition coming to our team and hopefully the grass is greener for him in Buffalo.”

Playing in Buffalo and the Eastern Conference, Roy doesn’t get a chance to see the Stars a lot. He does know defenseman Trevor Daley. The two played together at some all-star events in juniors and with Team Canada. Roy is just hoping to mesh well with his new team, using his versatility, skating and skill to help the club.

“They have a great crop of young players. They’re on the verge of being a great hockey team and I am just going to try to fit in where ever I can,” Roy said. “I’ll help out even strength, penalty kill, power play or whatever they want me to do.”

Nieuwendyk said the acquisition of Roy – as with Sunday’s signings of forward Ray Whitney and defenseman Aaron Rome – will continue to let the Stars work some of their young players into the mix, and put them in situations the team sees as beneficial to their development.

"We talked a lot about our young kids that are turning pro and the two kids that have had one year in the minors in (defenseman) Brenden Dillon and (forward) Matt Fraser, we want to give them every opportunity to succeed,” said Nieuwendyk. “This trade puts people in their proper spots. Derek Roy will be on our top two lines along with Jamie Benn at the center position. We don’t have to put all that pressure on Cody Eakin, who has 30 NHL games under his belt. We think he'll be an up and coming bright star for us, but now those kids can play behind some of those people that we’ve added. It makes their development much more sensible that way.”

But that plan has meant changes, big changes. The Stars have said so long to popular players like Ott and Ribeiro over the last week. Nieuwendyk said that is the cost of moving forward and trying to get better.

“Change is sometimes hard for people to understand, but sometimes it is also a necessity,” Nieuwendyk said. “To be quite frank and honest, we are a team that has been really close the past couple years, but we haven’t made the playoffs in four years. You continually try to push your young guys, you incorporate even younger players in proper situations and proper fits and continue to make changes that try to make your hockey club get better. I believe the changes we have done have made our hockey club better.”

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