There is no time like the present for the Vegas Golden Knights who moved quickly to lock up unpolished gem Nicolas Roy today.
After emerging as a key bottom-six threat in his rookie year, Roy has been rewarded by the Golden Knights with a new contract.
The length of the deal is two-years and it will carry an annual average value of $750,000, while it is also a one-way contract.
That latter fact is important because it means that Roy is no longer waiver-exempt, while he also won’t be yo-yoing between the NHL and the AHL as he did this year prior to sports going on lockdown.
Roy was a pending Restricted Free Agent but he can now rest easy knowing that he’s committed to the Golden Knights for at least the next two years.
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It is a win-win for both player and team with Roy rightfully getting the reward of a new contract after bursting onto the NHL scene in 2019-20, while the Golden Knights lock down a key piece at a team-friendly price.
It is a prove-it deal for Roy who will now need to build on the promise he showed in flashes this season, putting him in line for a more lucrative contract once this new deal expires in 2022.
And it is an incredibly team-friendly deal.
Paying a player $750k per year that is just scratching the surface of their potential is a smart investment, and Roy could become one of the most underpaid young forwards in the NHL by the time this current deal is up.
Considered by many on the outside as a mere throw-in to the trade that sent Erik Haula to the Carolina Hurricanes last summer, Roy defied expectations and cemented a bottom-six role prior to the NHL going on hiatus.
Beginning the year in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves, Roy wasn’t considered an immediate piece of the puzzle for the Golden Knights.
However, due to a combination of injuries and a lack of secondary scoring from the bottom-six, the 23-year-old was eventually called up by the Knights and he marked his Vegas debut with a goal in a win against the Anaheim Ducks on October. 27, 2019.
You could say it was liftoff from that point on but it wasn’t always plain sailing with Roy making regular trips back and forth between Vegas and Chicago.
That was mainly a ploy to generate cap space prior to the Trade Deadline, but Roy was beginning to make an impression and he went on a run of four points (one goal, three assists) in five games between Nov. 10, 2019 to Jan. 4, 2020.
But it was during the latter stages of the 2019-20 regular season that the center really began to prove his worth.
Prior to the NHL going on hiatus, Roy was used up and down the lineup, including getting time on the second-line, while he came up clutch on a number of occasions, including potting a goal against the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 28, that showcased the forward’s skill and silky mitts.
In total, Roy finished his rookie year with five goals and five assists for 10 points in 28 games with a plus/minus rating of +3, while averaging 11:26 minutes of ice time per game.
Roy had seven blocked shots, 39 hits and 10 takeaways for the Golden Knights, also recording a 48.2 percent win rate in the faceoff circle.
But, more importantly, Roy meshed speed with skill to emerge as a versatile and potent offensive weapon for the Golden Knights, a Swiss-Army Knife type player that can be used up and down the lineup.
He proved that he can slot in on the second power-play unit and his 6’4″ and 205lb frame makes him a perfect fit for the style of hockey the Knights play.
So, what does this mean for the Golden Knights?
Well, as already mentioned, they lock up another piece of this season’s roster without breaking the bank.
That is significant because, due to COVID-19, it is likely that the NHL will freeze the salary cap at $81.5 million for 2020-21.
As a result, the Golden Knights are projected to have just under $9 million in which to deal with eight pending free agents while filling out any holes on the roster.
By signing Roy to such a team-friendly deal, they now have the flexibility to allow Tomas Nosek to leave in the off-season as a UFA given that Roy can center the fourth-line.
With Ryan Reaves on the cusp of also committing his future to Vegas according to SinBin, the Golden Knights should have the cash to thrash out new deals with pending RFA’s Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins, while having funds to sign a backup goaltender should Robin Lehner leave as expected.
Re-signing Roy also ensures that the Golden Knights have forward depth for 2020-21, plus the 23-year-old offers versatility given that he can fill a bevy of roles.
Overall, this is a smart move by the front office given the huge strides made by Nicolas Roy in 2019-20, and the forward has the potential to develop into a crucial role player for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2020-21 and beyond.