– pic via CanesCast
Usually the hype generated about the NHL Entry Draft in any given year is due to the top players in that class. Not much thought is given to those ranked outside of the Top 30, although if you looks back through previous drafts you’ll find each class hosts a couple players who have become notable NHLers.
The 2013 class in particular has been regarded as a "deep" draft. This refers more to the talent available outside the Top 30 rather than merely best in class – although there’s no shortage of high end prospects as well. After their picks at 6, 22 and 28 are made (barring a trade) Calgary will select in the third round, at 67th overall. A guy who may be available at this spot – and is considered to be one of the draft’s chief dark horses – is Brandon Wheat King rearguard Eric Roy (rrrrr-oh-yee not wu-ah).
Roy has been one of the WHL’s top offensive for the last couple years, although his production stumbled a bit this year. Partnered with top 2013 prospect Ryan Pulock, Roy amassed 17 goals for 39 points in 72 games. This after a 53 point campaign the year previous. Of course, Brandon being one of the WHL’s worst teams likely contributed a bit to Roy‘s dip in production.
Roy is ranked 71st on Corey Pronman’s Top 100 NHL Draft prospects list and had this to say about him:
After an impressive 17-year-old season, Roy took a step backwards in his 18-year-old campaign with Brandon. He has some abilities with which to work, but there are a number of areas that he needs to address if he is to succeed as a pro.
The good: Roy is an above-average skater who is mobile in every direction, and he skates well for a bigger player. He has significant offensive upside, evident in his 53 points in 69 games last season.
The bad: his defense, his decision making with the puck, and his physical game. One scout said that he is lost in his own end, and another said that he struggles with pace, turnovers, and trying to do too much. These issues and consequential risks make Roy a long-term prospect, should he pan out.
Every scout I talk to echoes the exact same thing as Pronman mentions above: Roy has tremendous offensive tools and upside, but looks lost when tasked to play defence – which ironically is also what his position is called.
Coming into the season Roy was considered as a possible contender for a Top 15 Draft spot, however those hopes have long faded. His personal downfalls combined with his teams performance on the ice culminated into a season to forget for the blue-liner. Also, with more eyes on him due to it being his draft year, his defensive flaws have become more magnified and assisted mightily with his drop down draft boards.
He does however posses tremendous offensive tools and a skill set like that on a defensemen may too be good for some teams to pass up on inside the Top 90. He skates well and also has an above average shot. The advantage with Roy is that his biggest weakness is something that can be taught. His neglect and overall lack of attention paid to the defensive zone can be adjusted and if he’s willing to learn, can become a sufficiently executed part of his game. The upside is definitely there, it’s the uncertain projection that will scare teams off come draft day.
Roy’s 17 goals for 39 points comes out to an NHLE of 13 which doesn’t exactly blow the doors down but is respectable for a draft eligible defensemen who’s game revolves around his offense. His NHLE last season 19 is actually considerably better and speaks towards the step backwards he took this season.
Mentioned in Kent‘s previous Darkhorse piece about Jordan Subban – who’s a very similar player to Roy – players who’s offense is the main part of their game in Junior sometimes tend to struggle when they reach the NHL. The difference between Subban and Roy is size. Subban is 5’9” while Roy towers at 6’3”. He is however fairly lanky (Jankowski-esque) weighing only 187 pounds and if he stands a chance at the pro-ranks he needs to – like most prospects – pack on some muscle.
Roy‘s tools do look like they have the potential to evolve into an NHL calibre skill set and that is certainly something that will attract teams. The duo of high offensive potential and a fixable weakness in his defence gives him massive upside and rebuilding team like the Flames could deem that to be a risk worth taking.
Many scouts and people "in the know" that I’ve spoken with echo that Roy is one of the drafts biggest dark horses in that if you fix his D, he could be a stud. Calgary needs difference makers now and in any other draft, finding a big time boom or bust prospect in the 3rd round would be a no brainer, however with the depth of this draft there may better (and safer) options at 67.
While Roy does have all the tools (on offense) to become an impact NHLer, his aforementioned defensive uncertainty adds a big level risk to his projection. If Jay Feaster and Co. were to end up picking Roy, I’d be more intrigued rather than upset because it would at least be going down an unbeaten path for Calgary – one of selecting high risk/high reward players in the draft. This a route Calgary has seldom taken in the past but seem to be doing much more of under Feaster (Jankowski, Gaudreau) and it’s bound to show some dividends sooner or later.
That said, picking Roy (or Subban) would go against some of the Flames recent draft habits of targeting kids with "hockey sense". The team hasn’t chosen a high-end offensive defender since Dion Phaneuf in 2003, instead going with stay-at-home guys (Sieloff and Wotherspoon) or two-way defenders (Brodie, Kulak, Culkin). The organization lacks firepower from the back-end as a result, so perhaps the team starts looking at potential blueline big guns this year.
Flames Darkhorse Targets