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Top 25 Sharks Under 25: No. 10 Jeremy Roy must stay healthy

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Time is running out on the once-heralded defenseman’s NHL chances.

BOISBRIAND, QC - OCTOBER 12: Jeremy Roy #81 of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada fights with Mathieu Joseph #21 of the Saint John Sea Dogs during the QMJHL game at the Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau on October 12, 2016 in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

“Honestly, I just want to play.”

That’s what Jeremy Roy told Nick Nollenberger this summer in the San Jose Barracuda’s annual “Catching up with the ‘Cuda” series, and it’s hard to blame him.

After suffering a knee injury in October of 2016 that ended his season with the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and a grueling 11 months of recovery that followed, Jeremy Roy jumped to the pros. He was slowly progressing in the first few months of the season, mainly working on the third line with Cavan Fitzgerald and was really starting to look like a mainstay on a constantly changing Barracuda roster.

But on December 21 in Bakersfield, disaster struck.

In one of his best all-around performances all season, a Condors player ran into his surgically-repaired knee, sending Roy to the locker room for the rest of the night. He missed the following game at home the next night. According to head coach Roy Sommer after the ‘Cuda’s 3-1 win against the Texas Stars, there was no timetable for Jeremy’s return. And then the other shoe dropped — Zachary Devine broke the news that Roy would once again miss the rest of the season to get his knee repaired again. Roy would also miss development camp, as well.

His loss not only hurt on paper for the Barracuda, but for his NHL stock as a whole- according to Emmanuel Perry’s model, Roy had a 60 percent chance of making the NHL in his 2014-15 season. Now, coming off of two consecutive ACL tears, he now looks at a less than 10 percent chance of breaking into the league.

If Roy stays healthy this entire year, and that is a big if, the Barracuda will add on to a defensive corps featuring Top 25 Under 25 nominees Jacob Middleton and Nick DeSimone solidly on its top pairing. It may have been a somewhat small sample size, but Evan Oppenheimer’s betweenness data shows us that Roy didn’t do much to drive play in his third-pairing role last season, with a line of 0.006. However, he was significantly better on the man-advantage, with his betweennness score rising to .0373, still a major departure from his defensive partner, Cavan Fitzgerald, who had a .1983 line.

In roughly 14 minutes of ice time per game, Jeremy’s offensive side of his game took a step back from his QMJHL production. He scored at a rate of 0.1 goals per game, 0.25 primary points per game, and took 1.2 shots per game while shooting at 8.5 percent.

With only 30 games over the last two seasons, it won’t be easy for Roy to make a turnaround. But until we see him play a full professional season, it’s hard to not hold out hope that he can make it.

What we like

While often described as an offensive defenseman, Roy has been praised for his two-way style of play. According to Curtis Joe of Elite Prsopects, Roy’s “absolute and total awareness of other players’ positions on the ice is a testament to his incredible knowledge of the game.” Roy has also drawn comparisons to Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith for his two-way play. His exuberant hockey IQ and his absolute determination to fight through his injuries makes for a potentially great defenseman.

Areas of Improvement

Roy has to stay healthy in his sophomore professional campaign if he wants to reach his potential, but it’s important to note that he is still only 21 years old. He could also use a little more muscle.

Highlights

Roy’s first professional goal was an absolute cannon of a shot, with Jon Martin helping out with a screen on Jack Campbell. If he stays healthy, we can expect to see a lot more of those goals from the point.