The Buffalo Sabres probably want to forget this season already.
Not only have they been without last year’s second leading scorer Tim Connolly— who has missed 10 of 35 games– and superstar netminder Ryan Miller for stretches but they now will need to deal without first line center Derek Roy. Not only does Roy lead the team with 35 points in as many games but he has led the team in scoring for the past three seasons. In addition, he has the highest ratio of goals per 60 minutes on the team, almost a half a goal more than Thomas Vanek.
Offensively he is simply irreplaceable.
Replacing Roy, however, was not the question. The team will likely tryout Nathan Gerbe, Tyler Ennis and Luke Adam in higher impact situations or even explore options outside of the organization if they feel they can still contend.
Outside of Drew Stafford, Roy faces the lowest quality of competition amongst forwards. In other words, when teams throw out their top line, you are more likely to see Jochen Hecht, Jason Pominville or even Ennis before seeing Roy on the ice. He is a producer and head coach Lindy Ruff uses him as such, keeping him away from the tougher situations in an attempt to help him further succeed; only his usual linemates Stafford and Vanek have started more shifts in the offensive zone.
Although Roy is definitely one-dimensional this contribution to the offense cannot be ignored. The team’s offense gets no respect as they sit in the bottom third in scoring and have faced 14 backups because of it– accounting for 10 of their 14 wins. Subtracting Roy from the equation and they just lost 11 percent of their total goals, which would move them from 21st in goals forced to 28th with only the Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils scoring less.
The ship in Buffalo is sinking and sinking fast without their top-two centers. Even if Miller stands on his head every game, they will continue to struggle putting the puck in the net. On the bright side the team will get a good look at how their prospects mesh with their current forward core and could have the opportunity to add more youth at the trade deadline if they continue to fall out of contention.