On a day when the NHL world held its collective breath waiting for decisions from two of its most prominent free agents — winger Zach Parise and defenceman Ryan Suter — the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars opted to exhale.
The two clubs announced Monday they’ve completed a three-player deal which sends centre Derek Roy to Dallas, with forward Steve Ott and defenceman Adam Pardy going to Buffalo. This news comes one day after the Stars signed Coyotes winger Ray Whitney to a two-year, $9-million contract and defenceman Sheldon Souray to a three-year, $11-million deal.
Roy had been the Sabres’ top centre, but was underwhelming last season. Normally considered a point-per-game player, Roy scored 17 goals and 44 total points in 80 games in 2011-12. He was entering the last year of his contract with Buffalo; now he’ll take his playmaking skills to Big D, where the likes of Whitney, Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder await.
Ott has a reputation as a fiercely competitive player who has been listed as both a centreman and a left winger. Either way, he’s a pest who also has skill on offence: Ott averaged 15 goals, 36 points and 164 penalty minutes during the last three years. Pardy, a onetime Calgary Flame, brings another big body (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) to a blueline which already lists Tyler Myers (6-8, 227), Brayden McNabb (6-4, 204) and Robyn Regehr (6-3, 225) on its roster.
The trade of Roy also clears the way for another significant player to make his mark. Cody Hodgson, acquired in a deadline-day deal with the Vancouver Canucks last season, is rated as a top centre: now he gets his chance to show how well he can work with captain Jason Pominville and sniper Thomas Vanek.
Meanwhile, neither Parise nor Suter had made any definite plans for the future. After saying that he would have an announcement on Monday, Parise told reporters “I’m getting closer but haven’t made a decision,” adding that he hasn’t set a deadline for making up his mind. Suter made no similar declaration to the media, but his public silence seemed to confirm that he wanted more time to think about things, too.
They are two of several big names waiting to say “yes” to bidders. Among the others still fielding offers from clubs and available as of Monday afternoon are forwards Teemu Selanne, Shane Doan, Jaromir Jagr and defencemen Matt Carle and Bryce Salvador.