I’ll give you a minute to process that. No, you didn’t misread that. No, it’s not a typo. Steve Ott is no longer a Dallas Star, as the team sent him to Buffalo along with defenseman Adam Pardy in return for center Derek Roy.
As would be expected, the initial reaction from nearly every Stars fan has been one of shock, outrage, and disappointment. There is no denying that Steve Ott was the fan favorite in this town, and so it is especially hard to look objectively at this trade and try and see the good in it. I myself said last year at the trade deadline that the returns would have to be ridiculously high in order for myself to justify Ott being shipped out of Dallas. And while I too initially thought to myself “you have got to be kidding me” when the news broke this afternoon, I have had several hours to look at the trade and am here to tell you, this trade could be very good for this team in the long run.
Plain and simple, the Stars had a gaping hole to fill at the center position this season after Mike Ribeiro was sent to Washington on draft day. They desperately needed a center for one of the top two lines and that is exactly what they got in Derek Roy. Roy has been a solid point producer throughout his career and is in his prime at 29 years old. The talented center is thought by most to be a fairly strong #1 center and an outstanding #2 center when it comes to offense and point production. He is also known to be a very good two-way forward and can eat a lot of tough, defensive zone minutes, something that Mike Ribeiro simply could not handle.
What this means is that the Stars top two lines will now both be capable of playing both offensive and defensive minutes, which should make it much tougher for opponents to “match up” their lines against the Stars.
Sounds great so far, right? Well, hold that thought for a second. There are two fairly significant risks being taken by the Stars as a result of this trade. First, Roy’s point production tapered off greatly last year, as he only produced 44 points in 80 games played during the 2011-2012 season. However, most credit this drop off to an injury sustained during the 2010-2011 season that hampered his training and preparation for the 2011-2012 season. Roy says he feels 100% recovered and believes he can help the Stars, but the center definitely has something to prove in this upcoming contract year.
This brings me to the second risk the Stars are taking in this move. Derek Roy is in the final year of his current contract. This means that there is a good possibility that Roy does indeed have a great “comeback” year with the Stars, but then is lost to free agency the following year. At that point, the Stars would have effectively given up a heart and soul franchise player for a one year rental center. That is the type of move that is typically made by teams who feel they are one piece away from winning a Stanley Cup, and I think it is safe to say that the Stars are not currently one of those teams. As such, it is my opinion that it is imperative the Stars sign an extension with Roy early in the season if he shows signs of returning to his former self.
Interestingly enough, this deal bears great resemblance to the trade that saw James Neal and Matt Niskanen shipped to Pittsburgh. Similar to moving Matt Niskanen, the Stars also added a defenseman that simply wasn’t working out in Dallas to this trade package in Adam Pardy. While his piece in this puzzle will be largely overlooked compared to Ott, it is important to note that he was another asset that was required to bring Roy here to Dallas.
Only time will tell how this will all play out, and while it will be hard to see Ott go, fans have to hope that the Stars may have found a center to anchor their top six forward group for some time to come.