Derek Roy spent his summer training in Toronto, working out with former player-turned-trainer Gary Roberts and his legion of NHL clients, arriving at the rink each day still wondering whether he would have a job come fall. He was not alone in this regard, one of several across the league pursuing a professional tryout agreement (PTO), because guaranteed contracts simply weren’t available. Curtis Glencross, Brad Boyes, Tomas Fleischmann – all veterans left with no other choice.
“It was definitely tough,” Roy said. “Those guys are in the same boat. I was looking at all the other guys, seeing if they’re signing as well, if they’re waking up in the morning and working that much harder to get where you want to be.”
With “a couple offers here and there” on the table, Roy could choose his training camp destination based on the situation presented, and so by this weekend the 32-year-old center agreed to join the Washington Capitals. He arrived for his first informal practice Tuesday, wearing No. 10, and looked at ease during the intrasquad scrimmage, just one more skater with something to prove.
“I guess you’ve got to act like a rookie and come in and play your heart out every day in practice and games, and everything else will take care of itself,” Roy said.
If Roy makes the cut and earns a contract, Washington will mark his seventh team since 2011-12, a journey that began following eight stable, productive years in Buffalo. With the Sabres, Roy registered a career-high 81 points across 78 games in 2007-08, but underwent surgery to repair a torn quadriceps in December 2010, which “set me back.”
Since then, Roy made stops in Dallas, Vancouver, St. Louis, Nashville and, thanks to a midseason trade last winter, Edmonton. Now Roy will likely play both forward and wing during training camp as Washington searches for a fit. With Nicklas Backstrom still recovering from hip surgery and uncertain for the season opener, and the third- and fourth-line centering spots still undetermined, Roy might find a permanent home up the middle, especially in the bottom six.
“We were talking all summer,” Roy said. “When you talk all summer with the team, you see where you’re going to fit in, where the team’s at and what they need and what they want. We definitely looked at a lot of the rosters.”
The Capitals are projected to have roughly $1.5 million in available salary, once either Philipp Grubauer or Justin Peters are dispatched to the AHL and final cuts are made, and General Manager Brian MacLellan projected here that the Capitals would be able to fit Roy under the cap, if he impresses enough to earn a roster spot. His previous cap hit was worth $1 million.
“We were just trying to see what was the best for me and the best opportunity to win a Stanley Cup as well,” Roy said. “That’s what we’re all here for, to win, at the end of the day, and this team’s got a great shot. Looking at all the leadership and the young talent, it’s a great spot to be in.”