While his skates are only a size-8, Buffalo Sabres forward Derek Roy realizes that he has big skates to fill due to the departures of Chris Drury and Daniel Briere. The Rockford native has always been used to pressure and early indications suggest that Roy is on the cusp of NHL stardom. McKeen's had a chance to catch up with Roy and talk about his changing linemates and the new dynamic in the dressing room.
McKeen's: There is quite a different dynamic this season from year's past with both your leaders (Drury, Briere) gone.
Roy: Yeah it was different not to see them there. However, our whole team was not surrounded around two guys. I am very positive about this group after what I saw in training camp and the shape everyone arrived in. We also were missing Timmy (Connolly) for the bulk of last season. He is just as skilled as those two guys are so it is going to help, so maybe it is like only losing one of them. We all as a group have to adjust, show character and bring leadership to the table.
McKeen's: You received a generous contract in the summer (6years $24 million) how rewarding was that for you from an organizational standpoint that they valued you so much for the future?
Roy: It is great. I wanted to stay here and with six more years, it really helps me focus more on hockey. It will give me a chance to establish more of a leadership role with this club. I worked really hard in the off-season to be in this position and came into camp with a completely different focus and mentality.
McKeen's:Drew Stafford or Maxim Afinogenov, they both bring different elements to your line. Do you have a preference in terms of who to play with?
Roy: The both work very hard and move the puck well. Max is hard to contain when he is flying around as he was tonight. That is the key to success for our entire team. We need to be moving and working together at all times.
McKeen's: The East has improved considerably, how do you think you will measure up?
Roy: We were disappointed about our first two losses. We thought we played good enough to win game two against the Islanders but not game one. Since coming back at home and winning the last two, it has been great. Our focus is to play our game and approach each opponent at a time. You cannot dwell on how others are doing you just need to put yourself in a position to win every night.
McKeen's: It is amazing how well your rookies have assimilated themselves into the lineup and established a role. Players like Mike Ryan and Dan Paille, in particular have stepped in and not missed a beat. There just seems to be a never-ending supply of prospect depth. Can you comment on that?
Roy: We are fortunate to have a great coaching staff in Rochester. Our scouts have also done a tremendous job, as they have made some nice picks in the draft. Going down to Rochester for me was a good experience. You learn down there and when you come back up here and play they do not just sit you on the bench they put you into playing situations. I think that has been the main reason why our young guys have not only been able to play but compete.
McKeen's: Finally, your style of game has taken on a new dimension in that you are more methodical in the offensive zone, as opposed to when you first broke into the league and were more of a kamikaze-type player. Is that a testament to your maturity?
Roy: I have been in the league a few years now and definitely am more mature. Learning from two consummate pros such as Danny (Briere) and Chris (Drury) helped a lot. My first year I was like a sponge soaking everything in, noticing how they acted on the ice in certain situations, how they conducted themselves with the media and outside the rink within the community. Since their absence, I find that I have matured considerably too. I just have to continue to focus on using my linemates and playing a strong team game.