The Blues’ search for a center came to a close on Saturday evening as the club announced a deal had been agreed upon between them and unrestricted free agent Derek Roy.
The agreement is in place, pending a physical, but that isn’t expected to be an issue. The deal is a one-year agreement, worth $4 million. It will be just the second contract Roy has signed in his nine National Hockey League seasons.
"(I'm) proud to be part of the St. Louis Blues organization," Roy said on his Twitter account. "(I'm) excited to get started."
The Blues were led to look into Roy when they failed to sign their first two options at center when free agency opened on Friday. The club had significant interest in both Stephen Weiss and Valtteri Filppula, but both chose to sign five-year contracts with other pursuers.
Roy, 30, drew interest from other teams as well, but he felt a one-year deal with the Blues was the right decision for him.
Roy will be the fourth center the club has signed in the past two days. On Friday, the club inked Alexandre Bolduc and Keith Aucoin to one-year contracts, while signing Maxim Lapierre to a two-year deal. Both Bolduc and Aucoin were depth signings while Roy and Lapierre will find spots on the Blues’ roster.
The Blues’ newest addition has had some explosive seasons in the past. In the 2007-08 campaign, Roy had 81 points in 78 games with the Buffalo Sabres, which was his career-best season. Roy split time between the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks last season after spending the previous seven seasons in Buffalo.
Roy's numbers have dwindled a bit since he underwent surgery to repair a torn quad tendon in 2010. The injury and recovery forced Roy to miss 46 regular season games that year. In 2012, Roy had to have surgical work done on his shoulder as well.
The Ottawa native has 455 points (168 goals, 287 assists) in 591 career NHL games. He also has a plus-43 rating for his career.
Roy, who is 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, is expected to fill a role as the Blues’ top center, while David Backes, who has centered the top line the past few seasons, will likely shift to the wing. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock liked that idea last season, but the team’s lack of a fill-in for Backes meant he couldn’t experiment.
Lapierre will likely be the club’s third line center. Of course, there is flexibility in that regard as Lapierre would also fit in nicely with the club’s fourth-line grinders.
In all, the Blues went from having weak depth at the center position, to solidifying their roster in 24 hours. But those acquisitions have left the Blues needing to shed some salary.
The Blues have $7.85 million remaining in cap space. General manager Doug Armstrong has said from the get-go that the Blues likely wouldn’t be at the cap’s ceiling, which is right around $64 million. The club is still looking to re-sign forward Chris Stewart, and defenseman AlexPietrangelo. Armstrong has a general idea of how much both will cost, but the two signings would surely put the Blues over the cap limit. The team is expected to explore moves that would rid them of some of their player’s salaries.
Negotiations with Stewart and Pietrangelo have drawn out a bit longer than the Blues would have liked. It is speculated that Stewart will use arbitration to his advantage, so his signing may take a bit longer. Pietrangelo is looking to cash in with a long-term, big-money contract, so the two sides will likely take some more time to reach a deal.
It is likely that the Blues are done with free agent acquisitions for now. The club will now shift its focus to signing its restricted free agents, and shedding salary before the season. The club has plenty of time to do both.