Canucks shake things up, land centre Derek Roy in trade with Dallas Stars, re-sign Chris Higgins to four-year deal
Deal 'gives us more flexibility … We're still looking to be active,' says GM Mike Gillis
'I was really excited to hear the news I got traded to a great organization like Vancouver,' Derek Roy said from Dallas after being dealt away by the Stars. 'Things didn't work out the way we planned here with Dallas.'
Photograph by: Glenn James, NHLI via Getty Images files
VANCOUVER — Centre Derek Roy is coming, left-winger Chris Higgins is staying and the Vancouver Canucks are still trying to make more moves to strengthen their roster for the NHL's stretch run and playoffs.
A trade for Roy led off Tuesday's events as he was obtained from the Dallas Stars for a second-round pick in the 2013 entry draft plus minor-league defenceman Kevin Connauton.
The team then signed Higgins, 29, to a four-year contract extension worth $10 million, the deal kicking in next season.
General manager Mike Gillis was also deeply involved in talks on hulking San Jose left-winger Ryane Clowe, who eventually went to the New York Rangers for a second-round pick, a third-round pick and a conditional second-round pick.
The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday at noon Pacific time.
With Ryan Kesler expected back soon from his broken foot, the Canucks seem reasonably solid at the centre-ice position and can look to bolster their depth at wing and right-side defence. Gillis, of course, has one big chip to play in netminder Roberto Luongo.
“I liked a lot of things about the Derek Roy trade,” explained the GM. “I like the fact he's a winner and an MVP at the Memorial Cup (2003). I like his points per game average. I like his playmaking ability and the opportunity to add another layer of offence.
“It also gives us more flexibility. Instead of being focused on that one piece of the puzzle, we can now look at other areas we'd like to strengthen, and other possibilities and maybe three-way deals or something along those lines. We're still looking to be active.”
Roy, 5-9 and a left shot, will likely slot into a third-line role behind Henrik Sedin and Kesler, once the latter returns. Roy is 29 and on an expiring contract worth a pro-rated $4 million this season. Talks between the Stars and Roy on a contract extension did not produce an agreement, putting him on the trade market.
“I was really excited to hear the news I got traded to a great organization like Vancouver,” Roy said from Dallas after the deal was announced. “Things didn't work out the way we planned here with Dallas.”
Higgins has played against Roy both in the minors and at the NHL level and provided a solid scouting report on him.
“I've seen a lot of him,” said Higgins. “He's a real savvy player with the puck and he makes some really smart passes out there. He likes to win pucks in the corner and he's good around the net so he'll be a great addition for us.”
Higgins, of course, was also delighted with his new deal. Despite his New York roots, he feels at home on the West Coast.
“Throughout the year, I told my agent that if you and the team talk, I’d obviously be interested in returning and then things started heating up the last couple of days,” he explained. “I'm absolutely thrilled that it got done. I really enjoy playing for this organization and I have a lot of respect for the guys on the team. It made the choice a little bit easier knowing the type of character we have here.”
The Canucks consider Higgins an invaluable “seventh forward,” a player who can move up and down the depth chart depending on need.
“Chris is a highly versatile player, he can play in a lot different situations and he's been a very good player for us since we acquired him,” said Gillis. “In a normal season, he'd be well on his way to 20-25 goals.”
Roy was originally drafted 32nd overall in 2001 by the Buffalo Sabres, where he spent eight seasons. His best year was 2007-08 when he scored 32 goals and collected 81 points. He has also had seasons of 70 and 69 points but dipped down to 44 points last year.
He was dealt to the Stars last summer for Steve Ott and Adam Pardy. In 30 games with Dallas, Roy scored four times and added 18 assists. He had six points in his last five games. He said a lingering groin injury caused him to miss some games with the Stars but that he was completely healthy again. He also had off-season shoulder surgery.
“The shoulder has been great,” Roy said. “I had some groin issues and they finally went away the last five or six games so I'm ready to join the Canucks in a healthy position.”
Roy will wear No. 15 even though Zack Kassian, currently in the minor with the Chicago Wolves, offered him the No. 9 that Roy wore during his Buffalo days. He was No. 11 in Dallas. Roy and Kassian were teammates in Buffalo for a brief period.
“I talked to Kassian but I won't be taking that number from him,” Roy said. “He's a good kid. It's been first class so far and I've heard only good things about the organization.”
Roy, a bilingual native of Ottawa, admitted he doesn't know much about the Canucks or the players but expects to easily fit in. He was philosophical about having to switch teams for the second time in less than a year.
“We're professional athletes and that's what we do,” he said. “This is a business, as we know. It's pretty easy to move. All hockey players are nice guys and accommodating. Hopefully, I can do all those things they wanted me for and do all those things that made me successful throughout my career and that will help lead to some wins and, hopefully, a Stanley Cup.”
Connauton, the player going to Dallas, is a former Vancouver Giant and was the Canucks’ third-round pick (83rd overall) in the 2009 draft. A hard-shooting left-side blueliner, Connauton had seven goals and 18 assists for the AHL Wolves. Connauton, 23, has not played a game in the NHL and spent all three of his professional seasons in the minors.
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks sent rookie centre Jordan Schroeder back to the Wolves. The 22-year-old had no points in his last four games after a four-game point streak. Overall, he had nine points in 31 games ... Eighth defenceman Cam Barker was placed on waivers..
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