No strangers to drafting defenders from the WHL, the Calgary Flames snapped up Eric Roy of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the fifth round of the NHL Draft. A native of Saskatchewan, Roy is generally better known for his offensive skills than his defensive acumen – he had 17 goals (second-best on the Wheaties), but a minus-32 rating (second-worst).
Heading into the 2013-14 season, Roy will be one of a handful of Wheat Kings drafted by NHL clubs and, along with team captain and Islanders first round pick Ryan Pulock, will anchor a very young defensive core. While he’s still quite raw, he’s got a lot of potential and already has his offensive game rounded out. If he can shore up his defensive zone play, he could be quite a steal as a fifth round selection. Compared to his first-rounder teammate, Roy’s much more of a work in progress in a good way.
I caught up with Roy in early July at Flames development camp.
Ryan Pike: What’s the last week or so been like, just being a part of an NHL organization?
Eric Roy: It’s been tough, but you know, I’ve just been working hard every day. Coming here, it’s nothing like junior. It’s a lot more intense, a lot more fast. Bigger guys. But I thought I’ve been doing well here.
Last year in Brandon, both you and Ryan Pulock were getting a lot of attention from scouts. How did you go through the season and did having a teammate going through the same thing help you get through it?
I thought it was a pretty good season. I didn’t worry about the draft too much. I was waiting for the day to happen, and then it did, and I came to Calgary, but in the back of my mind it was there. I just worked hard every day. At the start of the season, me and Pulock told each other not to think about it, just go out and play, and help the team win.
Being a guy from the west, is it helpful for your comfortable level getting drafted by a team from Western Canada?
Oh yeah. Obviously it’s a comfortable spot there. I’m familiar with Calgary. They’re a good organization and a great city and I’m just really happy to be here.
For anybody who hasn’t seen you play very much, can you describe your game and what you bring to the table?
I think offensive abilities, that’s one of my strong attributes. A good first pass. Defensive part of it, I’ve been working on it from day one and it can only get better with time.
Brandon didn’t have the best year last year, but with the draft and everything behind you, what are your goals for the upcoming season?
Just go out and work hard every day. Get better, get stronger. Hopefully have a better team than we did last year. I think we will, because guys know what it takes now to play in the league and they’re a year older.