(Andy Devlin/Getty Images)
Derek Roy could stay an Edmonton Oiler after this season. GM Craig MacTavish said the team hopes to come to terms on a deal with Roy. Nail Yakupov may be the palyer to think for Edmonton’s increased interest.
With the trade deadline inching ever closer, it would have made sense had the Edmonton Oilers started to think about moving veteran center Derek Roy. However, it seems that’s not in the cards.
According to Edmonton Oilers play-by-play announcer Jack Michaels, Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said the team is looking to re-sign Roy before he heads to unrestricted free agency. A big reason for that? Roy is meshing well with 2012 first overall pick Nail Yakupov.
Yakupov hasn’t had the best season in Edmonton, scoring only nine goals and 20 points in 59 games, but he’s scored four goals and seven points during his current six-game point streak. The point streak is the first time he’s scored in six-straight games since the first ten games of his career in 2012-13.
There had long been trade rumors about Yakupov, with it seeming like the Oilers were going to cut ties with the third-year winger earlier in the season after he struggled out of the gates. However, the newfound scoring touch alongside Roy has helped of late. It was even reported that when interim coach Todd Nelson considered splitting up Yakupov and Roy, the 21-year-old Yakupov requested that Nelson keep the lines the same because the two were forming some positive chemistry. Quite clearly that has paid off.
At times, Yakupov has shown flashes of brilliance, and keeping Roy, someone he feels comfortable playing alongside and has possibly found his groove with, would be an important move for the Oilers, especially considering Roy could be re-signed relatively cheaply.
Since coming over the Oilers, Roy has skated 236 minutes with Yakupov at 5-on-5, but the pairing hasn’t fared well in the puck possession game. However, on a growing Oilers squad that has been beaten up on by opposition all season, the trade off of making Yakupov feel comfortable as he finds his game while losing the territorial battle seems like a good gamble for the Oilers.
The Oilers acquired Roy, who signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Nashville Predators in the off-season, on Dec. 29 in exchange for Mark Arcobello (who has since been claimed by Pittsburgh and currently plays for Arizona). Since joining the Oilers, the 31-year-old pivot has scored five goals and 12 points.
Roy has nearly 50 games of playoff experience and has scored seven goals and 27 points in the postseason. He could have been a cheap rental for a team seeking a depth center had the Oilers felt a trade would benefit them more.