Judging Canadiens Prospect Joshua Roy’s NHL Readiness
Montreal Canadiens prospect Joshua Roy is dominating the QMJHL playoffs.
With 21 points in eight games, he’s producing well over two points per game, which bodes well as the Sherbrooke Phoenix attempt to mount a run to the Memorial Cup.
Things will get much more interesting for Roy in the third round, as he’s set to face the Halifax Mooseheads, a significant step up in competition compared to the Phoenix’s first two playoff opponents.
And as we watch what is likely to be his final season in the QMJHL, the question inevitably becomes whether Roy, a 2021 fifth-round pick, is ready to make the jump to the NHL.
do u see him with laval or with montreal next season?
— ITC (@ian_trac) April 27, 2023
Roy is a difficult player to judge, but when to his offensive skillset, most agree it’s well-suited to the professional ranks.
On Thursday we took an in-depth look at all 21 points scored by Roy in the playoffs so far, and one thing became abundantly clear: the vast majority of his production is of the highlight-reel variety.
Roy is creative, has fantastic anticipation, and his shot matches his top-notch playmaking.
There are very few of Roy’s scoring plays that are due to playing against a weaker quality of competition. For the most part, they’re born from Roy’s elite hockey IQ and his great vision.
His goal was fine, but check out Roy's assists at 0:30, 0:42, and 0:55.
Ridiculous stuff from the #Habs prospect. pic.twitter.com/32vlejPczl
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) April 27, 2023
That doesn’t mean Roy will immediately make an impact in the offensive zone once he is playing professional hockey, and there’s definitely something to be said about how many of his points have come on the power play, but for the most part, they’re the type of plays that would lead to goals, or at the very least scoring chances, in the AHL or the NHL.
The biggest drawback when projecting his professional potential is his skating, which is slightly above average. He will need to improve upon his first stride if he’s to make an easy transition to the next level of hockey.
Roy was drafted by the Canadiens as a player that had fantastic offensive potential.
Defensively, there was a lot of work to be done.
Lo and behold, three years later you could argue Roy’s defensive game is on par with his offensive talent.
Not only has he become a regular feature on the penalty kill, he’s the type of player that is ferocious on the backcheck when the game matters most, though, that’s not always the case.
I mention the last part because motivation has always been an issue for Roy, and though he’s improved his overall effort level significantly, you could tell he was bored at times in the QMJHL.
But when the game is on the line, Roy suddenly becomes one of the most dominant forces on the ice, regardless of whether he’s being used in a defensive or offensive role.
Look at this BONKERS penalty kill shift from #gohabsgo Joshua Roy. Spectacular. pic.twitter.com/1NrhKSxQ1L
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) January 5, 2023
To get a better idea of his defensive prowess, we can refer to the opinion presented by David St-Louis, one of my favourite prospect experts.
“A prospect rarely manages to improve and develop his game as much as Roy has in Junior,” said St-Louis. “He was pretty much only a rush scorer in his draft year, but now he’s so much more. His playmaking game has improved significantly and his defensive game, too. He has a shot that can score in the NHL, but now, if he doesn’t make it as a scorer, it’s possible to envision him filling more of a defensive role.”
The last part, in particular, is crucial when projecting Roy’s potential.
It’s an opinion shared by prospect analyst Sebastian High.
“Roy is ready for a step up in competition, and he has been for the past year,” said High. “Laval is the best place for him to start, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he won a spot with the Canadiens in training camp. He plays a calculated game and can hold his own in a role as a two-way checking forward, which makes him an easier player to put on a fourth line than most of the other prospects in the Habs’ system.”
I wouldn’t be comfortable saying he has good odds of earning a job with the Montreal Canadiens next season, but seeing as he can help his team win at both ends of the ice, he’s likely to be given ample opportunities to show his worth with the Laval Rocket, the team which is best suited for the talented prospect at this time.
With that in mind, given his impressive scoring rate, his desire to constantly improve, and his well-rounded skill set, an NHL debut with the Canadiens could be in the cards sooner rather than later.
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Let him play atleast 100 games in Laval . No need to rush him
Maybe we should win the draft lottery? He had good chemistry with Bedard. 😁
Since he seems to be motivated when games mean something and he rises to the occasion more times than not, it stands to reason he may do well in the NHL. The issue is, there’s no room for him at the moment. And hopefully HuGo learn from the Slafkovsky experiment that playing future offensive stars in 4th line roles with limited minutes is not the way to go with prospects we’re hoping will become offensive weapons someday. Unless we’re lucky enough to move several NHL forwards this summer, a top line role in Laval would likely be the best spot for him. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what he can do at rookie camp, training camp and preseason next year though.