EDMONTON - The rescheduled World Junior Championship meant missing out on quality star talent like Shane Wright, Owen Power, Matty Beniers and Alex Holtz, among other future NHLers.
Most are focused on making their respective NHL teams out of camp, and that's understandable. But with it comes new opportunities for players looking to prove what they're capable of, and that especially rings true for Canada's Joshua Roy.
The Montreal Canadiens prospect was named to Canada's original camp last winter, but was ultimately one of the final cuts. He answered back with the QMJHL's Sherbrooke Pheonix, recording 74 points in the final 41 regular season games. He went on a 19-game point streak after returning to the Q out of Canada camp and finished with 119 points overall, good to win the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the league's top scorer.
That kinda made it hard to keep him out of the lineup for the second go around, didn't it?
During the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 campaign, Roy had a solid point-per-game run in 35 games with Saint John and Sherbrooke. Decent numbers, for sure, but he only ended up going in the fifth round to Montreal. But then you look at the sublime numbers he had this past season, and see that 31 other teams might be looking back a bit scared right now.
And it's not like he came out of nowhere, either: he was the first overall pick from the 2019 QMJHL draft, and while he didn't really explode the way most hoped he would, he was far from the 150th best player in the draft.
So, Montreal grabbing him was a major steal. And after not making Canada's roster originally, he's already found chemistry with Connor Bedard and Mason McTavish on Canada's top line in pre-tournament play.
"He's a real smart player, obviously he's a big guy, too," said McTavish, an Anaheim Ducks prospect and Canada's captain. "He knows how to finish. He plays well with me, I like the chemistry together, and he's a great guy too."
Roy scored in Canada's lone pre-tournament game on a breakaway to make it 4-1 over Sweden. Sweden eventually closed up the score, but Roy's goal proved to be the game-winner. And while it can be argued that anyone can play with guys like Bedard and McTavish, Roy was a good complimentary piece, helping to create offense and
One of the biggest knocks against Roy's game is his skating. The skill is there, he can get physical and has a great shot, but he's prone to losing winnable footraces to retrieve the puck. It didn't look that bad on Monday -- perhaps it's something he focused a lot on this summer -- but it's all about continuing to develop as a prospect.
"He's a skilled player, getting to play with him in practice is fun... he was creating a lot (on Monday)," said Bedard, the top prospect for the 2023 draft.
Canada's roster doesn't lack skill, especially in the top six. So it'll be interesting to see how the coach Dave Cameron utilizes Roy, and whether or not he sticks with the top line.
"It's easy to wonder if everything about his game will translate over to the NHL or not," a scout said. "Sure, he gets a lot of points, but that's not unusual in the QMJHL. There's always something lacking defensively in the Q. But you can't argue with the results last year. It'll be interesting to see how he translates to pro."
Another scout pointed out that he sees nothing left for Roy to accomplish in the QMJHL and that the 19-year-old's playmaking and shooting abilities should translate nicely to the pro game.
"He doesn't miss much on the breakaway because he keeps goalies guessing," the scout said. "It's hard not to be entertained watching him."
For now, Roy is focused on helping his country win gold in a scenario in a very unique situation. It's never been possible to get a second chance after not making the roster, and Roy doesn't take that for granted.
Cameron said it best when he said, “Life is an opportunity, you don’t know when it’s coming, it doesn’t always go the way we draw it up. So when that second opportunity comes, which it does in a lot of cases, then you have to be ready to grab it.”
You can bet Roy is going do whatever it takes to prove he belonged on the team in the first place. And maybe, he'll prove the Canadiens right for taking a chance on him after he fell so far in the draft and become the player many believed he could be.