As we previously established, the Detroit Red Wings have a few organizational deficiencies that they need to address this offseason. Adding right-handed depth to the blue line is one of those priorities.
To do so, they can trade for the next Jake Walman.
What do you mean? Walman is left-handed.
True, but there is one player out there that could be another hidden gem who exceeds expectations in Detroit. And that player is Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Roy.
Red Wings Need to Target Matt Roy
Who exactly is Matt Roy? Well, Detroit-native skates on Los Angeles’ second pair behind Drew Doughty. Though he plays more of a shutdown role, Roy recorded nine goals and 26 points this season. He’s entering the final year of his contract and has a $3.15 million AAV.
Roy spent a majority of the 2021-22 season paired with current Red Wings blueliner Olli Määttä. The two produced excellent possession numbers by limiting quality chances against.
He also has extensive experience killing penalties and ranked among the top 30 defensemen in xGA/60 while shorthanded last season (6.59). And while we’re on advanced analytics, Roy’s 11.5 goals-above replacement exceeded that of Walman (9.5) and Moritz Seider (1.2), according to Evolving-Hockey’s model.
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Overall, Roy is stout defensively and produces enough offense to warrant a role on the second pair. Though he’s been overshadowed by Doughty in the past, Roy has been a valuable member of the Kings for the last couple seasons.
In Detroit, Roy could slot in next to Määttä and line up against opponents’ top lines. He could also be paired with Simon Edvinsson (when healthy), creating a highly intriguing top four with Walman and Seider manning the first pair.
Potential Red Wings Trade for Matt Roy
Clearly, Roy provides a lot of value. Tough minutes. Penalty kill. And some offense, as well. So why would the Kings want to trade him? There are a couple of reasons, actually.
First, Los Angeles has an abundance of right-handed defensemen. Apart from Roy and Doughty, there’s also Sean Walker and Sean Durzi, with top prospects Brandt Clarke and Jordan Spence ready for NHL roles. Someone has to go.
In addition, the Kings need more cap space. They’re projected to have $7.5 million in cap space as of now, but have a few key restricted free agents to sign (including Gabriel Vilardi and Rasmus Kupari) and are in need of a new starting goalie, let alone any other upgrades they’re considering. Roy’s $3.15 million cap hit isn’t a lot, but moving it out would go a long way in accomplishing these objectives.
In my opinion, offering Detroit’s last second-round pick (No. 43) in exchange for Roy is reasonable.
“I’d accept the deal,” replied Kings reporter Nick Vazquez when offered this trade. “If the Kings can save a bit of money to address goaltending while recouping the 43rd pick, that would be a fair trade for a team that wouldn’t have picked in the first round in 2022 or 2023.”
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If the Red Wings acquire Roy, he’d address a clear need by skating on the right side of the second pair. Detroit isn’t going to find a player of Roy’s caliber on the free agent market, after all. It’s a weak class this year, especially if you’re looking for right-handed defensemen.
In general, Steve Yzerman needs to be active in trade talks if he wants to upgrade his team. Ideally, he can find teams with surplus talent at positions/roles where the Red Wings need improvement. This was what happened with Ville Husso last year – the Blues couldn’t afford both Husso and Jordan Binnington, and Yzerman was able to extract value from St. Louis’ predicament.
Like Husso, Roy would be an excellent addition and could thrive in a larger role in Detroit.
Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Evolving-Hockey, and CapFriendly.