Nicolas Roy is a 22-year-old forward who was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 Draft. He has played the previous two full seasons with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL scoring 11 and 17 goals in 2017-18 and 2018-19 respectively.
He really burst onto the scene in the Calder Cup Playoff run which eventually ended with Roy’s Checkers defeating the Golden Knights affiliate the Chicago Wolves. Roy scored six goals and tallied nine assists in 16 playoff games.
Roy is a big forward standing 6’4″ tall and weighing 207 pounds.
Following season one, the Golden Knights front office made the rash decision to completely blow up their second line. That meant letting both David Perron and James Neal walk out the door, while shifting Erik Haula to the wing (for a few games while everyone was healthy).
The line of Perron, Haula, and Neal allowed 3.03 goals per 60 minutes of time on ice when playing together. It was the highest on the team by half a goal. This year, 3.03 would have actually been just fine for the Golden Knights. (All stats are at even strength)
To compare, here’s the same table from last season.
The most alarming number on the chart is the first line’s number. It went up by nearly a full goal per 60 minutes and it was only 0.18 away from the line McPhee decided was so bad defensively that he had to destroy it.
The dominant line of Stastny, Stone, and Pacioretty wasn’t all that much better either. You are probably thinking, “yeah, but they scored way more.” Nope. With all three on the ice together, they allowed seven while scoring nine.
Look at the “fourth” line though. They got even better this year going with Reaves and Carrier together. Also, the line of Eakin, Pirri, and Tuch never conceded in over 70 minutes of time on ice together.
However, these numbers can be a bit misleading at times as not all goals are scored with full lines on the ice. So, let’s break it down by individual forward. Remember, these are even strength numbers only.
Coming into the 2018-19 season the Golden Knights appeared to be overloaded at the center position. With William Karlsson centering the top line, Stastny on the second, and Cody Eakin, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Erik Haula all options for the final two lines, Gerard Gallant was not short on choices. When the dust settled, Haula wound up being the odd-man out being pushed to the wing to play with Stastny and Max Pacioretty.
However, Gallant never had a full roster of players to work as Alex Tuch was missing for the first eight games, and by the time he returned, Stastny had gone out with a major injury. So, we don’t know exactly what may have happened had the Golden Knights been fully healthy. All indications through training camp, preseason, and the beginning of year indicated the plan was to use Haula as a winger, but a quick rash of injuries forced Haula back into the center until he was eventually lost for the season in early November.
As we head into 2019-20, there’s a possibility of some change in regards to the center position. Bellemare is an unrestricted free agent, former #6 overall pick Cody Glass could potentially fight for a roster spot in camp, and Haula still has to prove he’s fully healed from his brutal knee injury.
Aside from center though, the Golden Knights have much more depth on the wings now than they did heading into Year 2. With the additions of Mark Stone and Nikita Gusev, the Golden Knights now have nine legitimate top-six quality forwards. But, depending on Erik Haula’s position, they may only have two centers of those nine (Karlsson and Stastny).
On locker cleanout day, we asked Haula about returning to center. The words that came out of his mouth were not exactly telling, but the way they were delivered certainly made it seem as though he views himself as a center.
That’s… yeah that’s something that I need to talk about, but yeah that’s my… Possibly. I don’t know. I don’t know yet exactly, so just focus on getting to 100 (percent) then figure that out. -Haula
It’s an important decision for the Golden Knights as their lines would look drastically different with Haula as the 3rd center or as part of a group of seven stellar wings.
Haula as Center Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith Pacioretty-Stastny-Stone Gusev-Haula-Tuch Carrier/Nosek-Eakin-Reaves/Carpenter
Haula as Wing Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith Pacioretty-Stastny-Stone Haula/Gusev-Eakin-Tuch Haula/Gusev-Nosek/Carpenter/Glass-Reaves/Carrier
Gallant says he absolutely considered using Gusev in the series but basically said in the end it came down to the fact that he didn't fully know the systems and it wasn't worth the risk. Opted for Pirri and he thought he played great in Game 7.
Erik Haula sustained a nasty looking injury on November 6th when he got his skate caught in the boards causing his knee to buckle under him. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and has been described as “month-to-month.”
When originally asked about surgery, Gerard Gallant said he did not know, but now via a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, George McPhee has confirmed Haula did indeed undergo a surgery on his right knee.
He did have surgery. It’s a unique injury. It wasn’t an ACL, as some people reported. It’s not an ACL. It’s just an atypical injury for hockey. -George McPhee to LVRJ
The report McPhee is referring to was an article published by VGKLadies.com which was published 10 days after the incident. McPhee told the Review-Journal that Haula’s surgery took place a couple weeks after the injury.
The timetable for Haula’s return remains unclear as the team is saying the injury and surgery are abnormal and thus the recovery time is hard to predict.
I know it’s not going to be for the next two months for sure, but after that I don’t know. -McPhee to LVRJ
Neither Gallant nor McPhee would rule Haula out for the season, which means they have a reasonable expectation that he could return this season.
The hope, of course, is that Haula would be able to rejoin the team down the stretch run and into the playoffs. If the timing works out, it might almost serve as a trade deadline acquisition and may even dissuade McPhee from making a move at that time.
Gerard Gallant confirmed this morning Haula is considered “month-to-month.” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Injuries are a major part of hockey. Every team goes through them at various times and for various stretches of the season. For the Golden Knights, it’s come early and it’s come in the form of high-end forwards.
Alex Tuch missed the first eight games of the year and Max Pacioretty missed four games at the end of October. Both Pacioretty and Tuch have returned to the lineup, but the two guys they’ve played with on the Vegas second line haven’t been as fortunate. Paul Stastny went out in Game 3 and isn’t expected to return until late December at the earliest, and Erik Haula appears to be out for at least the balance of the calendar year.
Then there’s the suspension which has kept Nate Schmidt out for the first 20 games of the season. All in all, the Golden Knights have yet to play a game with anything resembling a full lineup, and the GM is frustrated.
I’d like to get healthy, for one game. just to see what we are. We just haven’t been. You know we rebuilt our second line and I think they’ve played two and half games together. Stastny’s been out most of the year, Pacioretty was out, Haula’s out, Tuch’s been out. We aren’t deep enough yet to not have everybody in. -George McPhee on Sportsnet 590 in Toronto
All in all, they’ve missed 39 games due to injury and 18 going on 20 due to suspension.
Nate Schmidt – 18 missed (100%) Paul Stastny – 15 missed (83%) Alex Tuch – 8 missed (44.%) Deryk Engelland – 5 missed (28%) Max Pacioretty – 4 missed (22%) Erik Haula – 3 missed (17%) Cody Eakin – 4 missed (22%) Ryan Carpenter – 1 missed (6%)
It appears to be Haula’s gig to lose, but it’s not necessarily up to him to keep it. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
It’s been a question since the moment Paul Stastny signed and it only ramped up when Max Pacioretty was acquired via trade. Will be it Alex Tuch, Erik Haula, or someone else playing as the second line right winger?
We expected the preseason to help reveal the answer to the question, but to this point, it hasn’t. Heading into last night’s game, both Haula and Tuch played with Pacioretty and Stastny once. Haula got his second shot last night.
To be honest I couldn’t really tell. Like I said it was a messy game, I don’t think anybody played really well. The execution wasn’t good for our team. It’s probably a lot of what I expected after two days in Montana so I didn’t take a lot out of it to be honest with you. -Gerard Gallant
Tuch is expected to get the final chance Sunday in the last preseason game and certainly can grab hold of it heading into Opening Night.
It’s the results on the ice that matter. It’s not what I think or what they think, it’s the results on the ice that matter. The Karlsson line, we put it together and I didn’t have to touch it because they were good. That makes it easy for a coach and players enjoy that so they like to know, coming to the rink, who they’re playing with. They decide it when they play well. -Gallant
Gallant admitted he doesn’t see anyone other than Haula or Tuch starting the season on the second line in the preseason, which means it’s going to be one or the other on October 4th.