As Nicolas Roy traveled across the country to join the Golden Knights’ organization, the team prepared to make him feel right at home during training camp.
The 22-year-old prospect was placed to veteran Jonathan Marchessault’s left in the locker room and to the right on the ice, so the elder Quebec native could help the younger one adjust to Las Vegas. It’s made a hectic time simpler for Roy as he tries to earn a bottom-six role with the Knights.
“(Marchessault has) been in the league for a couple years now, so he knows what to do and he talks a lot on the ice,” Roy said. “It helps me a lot.”
Roy started training camp by centering a line with Marchessault, the Knights’ leading scorer last season, at left wing. The team also placed the two French speakers’ locker stalls next to each other, a savvy move as it tries to evaluate the 6-foot-4 center’s readiness for the NHL.
Marchessault remembered how much speaking French to teammates David Savard and Michael Chaput in the minors meant to him and he is happy to pay it forward.
“It always helped me out, so I’m trying to be there (for him),” Marchessault said. “It would just make your life a little easier.”
Easy would be welcome for Roy, who joined the Knights via trade in June after three seasons in the Carolina Hurricanes’ system. He was acquired, along with a conditional 2021 fifth-round draft pick, in exchange for forward Erik Haula.
The Knights scouted him plenty before making the deal. He led the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, to a Calder Cup championship earlier that month. Their opponent in the final was the Knights’ affiliate: the Chicago Wolves.
“He led their team in chances created when they played against us,” Wolves coach Rocky Thompson said. “He was in all situations. He was a defensive penalty killer. He was on their first-unit power play. He took important faceoffs.
“He was a good player. And he’s big. I thought he skated well. He was difficult for us. They were putting him against (Knights’ top prospect) Cody (Glass) in the playoffs to try and nullify that line.”
Roy and Glass met again in training camp as they try to prove they don’t need to play another game in the AHL. For Roy, that means showing the Knights his size and well-rounded game could make an impact at fourth-line center or higher up the lineup. His large frame could serve him well in a checking role, but he’s capable of doing more than delivering hits.
“I don’t think he’s a prototypical power forward,” Checkers coach Ryan Warsofsky said. “He has more finesse to his game.”
He showed that skill on a line with Marchessault in the Knights’ first preseason game Sunday and also on the team’s second power-play unit. He received time on the penalty kill as well, all the while getting advice in French from a veteran teammate willing to lend an assist.
“He’s really good offensively and defensively,” Marchessault said. “He’s aware everywhere he’s on the ice. Smart player. I think it’s going to be a tough battle for him and a few other guys to get those last spots on the team.”
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Contact Ben Gotz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.
— Age: 22
— Birthplace: Amos, Quebec, Canada
— Position: C
— Ht./Wt.: 6-4/205
— 2018-19 AHL stats: 17 goals, 19 assists in 69 games
— 2018-19 AHL playoff stats: six goals, nine assists in 19 games