The news around Olivier Roy has been almost all positive since he was drafted by the Oilers 133rd overall just over a year ago. Roy ended last season with a .908 save percentage, good enough for fifth best in the QMJHL among goalies with at least thirty games. After a difficult playoffs, he joined the Falcons in Springfield and made his pro debut a success by recording his first win and posting a .913 save percentage in three games, two of them starts. That's a really solid performance.
At the QMJHL draft, Roy was traded to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in exchange for two first round picks (including the 5th overall pick in 2010), as well as one second, one third and one fifth round choice. The Titan are looking to be contenders in 2011, so Roy should have a strong team in front of him, a luxury he didn't have with Cape Breton. It's also nice to see Roy go for such a high price. It suggests that he's seen as a difference-maker at the junior level, which is exactly what prospects need to be in order to have success in the NHL.
Roy is moving up everybody's list, which is why he vaults from #25 in February to #22 today. I actually had him ranked the highest in our mid-season rankings, and now I'm down to fourth! That's not because I've soured on him though; I just had a few more of the new arrivals ahead of Roy than the rest of my fellows.
When I looked at this player in February, I raised the issue of puck-handling, suggesting that it was an area of concern. His back-up was facing consistently fewer shots and Scott Gouthro, his goaltending coach in Cape Breton, had said that "...he continues to work on his puck-handling, which is a key tool for the next level..." leading me to believe it was an area that needed improving. So I was encouraged when Bruce McCurdy said that Roy was "aggressively fielding and forwarding the puck" at prospect camp. Maybe this is a sign things are improving? I'll be interested to see if his shots against rate improves relative to his new crease-mate in Acadie-Bathurst.
The other thing I did was compare him to the goalies in drafted ahead of him in 2009 and noted that Roy was more highly regarded by the scouting agenices than the great majority of those players. Here's that chart again:
Because these players are all playing in different leagues around the world, it's difficult to make direct comparisons, but here's the season that each player had in his respective league:
And this is my difficulty with goalies. I know from the work I've done on drafting goalies that, in all liklihood, only one or two of these goalies will ever be a starter in the NHL. But I have no idea how to parse this list and pick out that one guy. Even J.F. Berube, whose season looks awful, was one of two goalies - the other was Olivier Roy! - from this draft class named to Team Canada's 2011 World Junior Development Camp. Now, Roy and Berube are the only two eligible for that honour from the list above, so that might have something to do with it, but neither of them got passed over in favour of guys from the class of 2010 either.
At this point, I'll say pretty much the same thing as I said six months ago. Olivier Roy is a goalie and thus a long-term project. He just turned 19 on Monday (happy birthday Olivier!), so it's not like the Oilers need to rush into making a decision on the kid. Jeff Deslauriers is 26 and some fans are still wondering if he might develop into a starter. So all we can do is wait. And hope. We can hope Roy plays well in the Q, hope that he starts for team Canada over Christmas, and hope that he's one of the couple of goalies from 2009 that has an NHL career.