Alexis Lafreniere and Joshua Roy of@Chevaliersaaa: similar seasons at age 15 in the @LHMAAAQ
– Stephane Leroux (@StephRDSJunior) February 4, 2019
Having ranked four solid defensemen(Mailloux, Xhekaj, then Engstrom and Barron) at positions 11 through 8, defensemen who are mostly seen on the last two pairs in the NHL, we’ll now turn our attention to a few forwards who all have the potential to occupy important roles in the top-6 or, at the very least, become above-average third-trio players.
The QMJHL’s top scorer in 2021-2022 at the age of 18 (51 goals, 119 points in 66 games) decided last year to perfect his 200-foot game in preparation for his transition to the pros.
Roy didn’t win a second scoring title with his 99 points in 55 games, but the overall results were fantastic as he even found himself on Team Canada’s first trio at the WJC, playing alongside the gifted Connor Bedard.
To a lesser extent, the man drafted first overall in the QMJHL in 2019 is also a kind of field hockey “gifted”. This is going to sound very simple, but it’s as if he intuitively knows how to play field hockey well. That’s probably what gives him the highest mark for potential so far in our tally.
But Roy isn’t just instinct and intuition. It’s a genuine above-average field hockey IQ that he seems to have developed by perfecting his game over the last few years.
Defensively, Roy always seems to be in the opposing team’s face, cutting off passing lanes, creating turnovers, counter-attacks and puck losses, enabling him, among other things, to excel in the short-handed situation, as we saw with both Team Canada and Sherbrooke. It’s a facet he’ll eventually be able to transpose to the professional level.
This blend of instinct and intelligence also enables him to produce some brilliant offensive sequences, such as the pass that led to Dylan Guenther’s winning goal in the CMJ gold medal game last January:
– ProStockHockey.com 🏒 (@prostockhockey) January 6, 2023
Even better under pressure as we’ve just seen, he became the Quebecer with the most points in two WJC appearances, beating out none other than Jonathan Huberdeau, a former third-round draft pick.
There is, however, a small caveat to this record that I’m not aware of having been raised too much.
Because of the summer schedule of the 2022 tournament(because of the COVID and blablabla…), Roy, whose birthday is August 6, achieved his feat by participating in two tournaments in the space of a few months as a 19-year-old.
That doesn’t take away his merit, and no one will take away the points he scored – least of all a fellow Beauceron! – but objectively and historically, it has given him an advantage over other Quebecers, an advantage we may never see again in this competition.
But regardless of the timing of his CMJ record, Roy’s style of play is in keeping with the DNA of the system Martin St-Louis has been trying to implement since his arrival: Roy is constantly striving to make THE best game, not just a game.
In terms of his technical and athletic qualities, Roy will never be the fastest skater, but we’ve seen some fine progress in this area over the last two seasons. In any case, he’ll always more than make up for it – a bit like a Mark Stone – with his near-perfect game-reading, anticipation and timing, which often puts him in the right place at the right time, as shown here:
Joshua Roy doubles Canada’s lead 🚨
– TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 5, 2023
– TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 21, 2022
Otherwise, the Beauceron can do just about anything on the ice to help his team. We’ve already talked about his defensive game, but it’s obviously his offensive qualities that could land him on the Canadiens’ top line on a permanent basis.
Looking to the future, Roy’s qualities are very complementary to those of players like Suzuki and Caufield…
So, theoretically, he has a chance of one day finding himself on the left wing of the Tricolore’s “first trio”, or more modestly in the top-6.
If he was able to adapt to Connor Bedard’s style of play in the time it took to say it, why shouldn’t Roy be able to play with the Suzukis, Caufields and Dachs of this world?
In due course, Roy will undoubtedly have opportunities to move up the team’s offensive hierarchy. It will be up to him to seize them.
Unless he ruins everything at training camp and leaves no doubt in the minds of management, the Quebecer will most likely need a period of adjustment to professional field hockey in Laval, and will also have to learn to live with the status of French-speaking “star” player at the heart of the mythical Montreal institution.
Roy seems to have a very good head on his shoulders, but we’ll have to give him the right advice and support to ensure that he keeps both feet on the ground and lives it all serenely. It’s one thing to have the spotlight on you a few times a year at junior level, it’s quite another to suddenly be one of the main faces in the media on a daily basis.
Psychologically, the key for Roy will be to stay grounded while remaining himself, i.e., calm, confident, ” happy go lucky ” and able not to worry too much about the positive or negative “noise” around him.
Aside from this slightly more “mental” aspect of the challenge that awaits him, there doesn’t seem to be any strictly “field hockey” reason why Roy can’t blossom as an impact player with the Tricolore.
As mentioned above, I don’t think his skating will be much of a problem for him, given his outstanding anticipation skills.
If he continues to work hard and offers honest production in the role he’ll be given, we needn’t worry too much about his sympathy capital and the level of criticism he’ll receive from the media and fans.
In short, with all the qualities we’ve listed and his steady, impressive progress as a complete forward, there’s very little doubt that Roy will one day reach the NHL in the very reasonable future to become an above-average player in many facets of the game.
Still, past experience with other Quebecers with profiles similar to his suggests a certain caution when it comes to the assurance of seeing him reach his full potential with the CH. Hence the relatively conservative “15/20” rating we’ve given him in this regard.
In field hockey terms, Roy will either become an excellent third-choice player, capable of muzzling opponents and ensuring his team’s puck possession, or an excellent addition to any of the team’s top-6 combinations, capable of making his teammates better.
All in all, Roy possesses a natural talent and a combination of qualities that are quite rare among the organization’s wingers. But with youngsters Slafkovsky and Newhook arriving in the organization after him in the last thirteen months with fanfare and trumpets – and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard shouldn’t be ruled out too quickly – the Beauceron will still have plenty of competition in the years to come at the top of the hierarchy among left wingers.
From a marketing point of view, it goes without saying that the likeable Beauceron could become a media favorite and therefore a “champion” of fan relations, with his infectious good humor not unlike that of Phillip Danault. It may not seem important to some, but it’s a factor that the organization takes into account.
While his trade value hasn’t skyrocketed – he’s only gained half a point in our evaluation – Roy has left quite a calling card for NHL team executives with his performances at the last two WJCs, and with a smooth transition to the pros, he could be a hot name in Hughes’ discussions with his counterparts over the next few years.
But looking at the Tricolore’s organizational chart for the next few years, it’s hard to see the Habs trading a forward of Joshua Roy’s calibre just for the fun of it. We’ll have to wait and see where Roy ends up in the attacking hierarchy, because he could just as easily become the club’s best left winger. As we said, it’s not impossible. We’ll just have to see…
Then, of course, if he performs well, with the reality of the Montreal market, Gorton and Hughes would be crazy to part with such a sympathetic and popular Francophone. With Harvey-Pinard and Montembeault, also very likeable, Roy could form a “super trio” capable of ensuring this natural and historic communion with the team’s French-speaking fan base.
But in a few years, let’s say two or three, “better than him” forwards who are just as useful to the team, at just as good a price, won’t be available on every street corner…
Let’s just say we see him settling in with the Habs for the long haul.
Paradoxically, despite having grown up before our very eyes, Joshua Roy represents one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire organization. Originally drafted 150th in 2021, with his potential, if he makes a successful transition to the pros – and he seems to have developed his game enough to do so – the Beauceron could well become the equivalent of a first-round pick. This would make him the Canadiens’ best late-round draft pick since Brendan Gallagher, and one of the last gems left by Trevor Timmins.
After all, before arriving in the QMJHL, the difference in talent between him and a certain Alexis Lafrenière was minimal in the eyes of many.
His training camp will be captivating to follow and could also reveal rather quickly the CH’s intentions for him in the months to come. But Roy has the power and talent to favorably influence his fate.
We’ll continue next week with the 6th position!