Derek Roy has been something of a nomad on Team Canada, but he may have finally found a permanent home.
The 25-year-old Buffalo Sabres forward has been promoted to one of Canada’s scoring lines with centre Eric Staal and winger Martin St. Louis for today’s 4:30 p.m. game against Norway at the IIHF world championship at the Metro Centre.
Roy, a natural centre, has showcased impressive versatility through three games, shuffling through the lineup as a scoring-line winger, checking-line centre and 13th forward.
“I knew my role at the start of the tournament — I’m going to play everywhere, in all types of situations,” said Roy, who has a goal, an assist and plays more than 12 minutes per game.
“I’m taking on that role, and I’m enjoying it. I’m enjoying playing with great players, and the adjustment’s fun.”
Staal and St. Louis skated with Jason Spezza for most of the tournament, but the line didn’t click. Spezza and Staal, natural centres, kept getting their wires crossed.
Roy will play the left side with Staal at centre. Spezza will play his natural position on the fourth line with Patrick Sharp.
The adjustment shouldn’t be overly difficult for Roy, considering his previous linemates included Shane Doan and Jonathan Toews, top-liners on their respective NHL teams.
“That’s the third line, but it’s a first line on most NHL teams,” he said. “I just have to keep playing my game, getting down low, getting the puck to the net and getting into scoring areas.”
The 5-foot-9, 188-pound native of Ottawa had a breakthrough year after Sabres stars Daniel Briere and Chris Drury landed big-money free-agent contracts and left town.
Roy struggled early on, but finished the season with 51 points in 38 games for a 32-goal, 81-point career campaign.
“You were playing third-line minutes behind two NHL stars and now you’ve got to step into the light and produce,” Roy said. “It takes a while to get into the mind-frame where, ‘I am that guy who needs to produce every night.’”
That mindset will serve him well as Canada continues its search for offence from someone not named Dany Heatley.
“Eric’s a big guy who moves the puck and skates well; Marty’s quick and makes plays around the net,” he said. “As long as we work hard and stay on the same page, we’ll be fine.”
>> For more coverage of the world championship, visit Matthew Wuest’s blog at www.metronews.ca/halifax.