News that Nathan Horton’s contract was used as a comparable by the Buffalo Sabres in working up a contract proposal for center Derek Roy borders on the amazing. Ultimately, Roy was given the same six-year, $24 million package Horton got.
Let’s see who turns out to have the better career. The betting here is it’s Horton.
That seems like a pretty bold statement since the two players have very comparable stats to this point in their careers. Sure Horton is two years younger than Roy but they came into the NHL at the same time. Horton scored 31 goals with 31 assists for 62 points while Roy scored only 21 goals with 42 assists for 63 points. The stat that nobody looks at is the fact that Horton took 217 shots for a 14.3 % shooting percentage and Roy took only 130 shots. That works out to be a 16.2 % shooting percentage.
But Roy is pretty much a known commodity. Horton is not. And his upside is markedly better.
Did he really say his upside is markedly better? The last I knew Roy was a not given even close to the ice time that Horton gets. The upside for both these guys is huge but I think Roy could go above and beyond everyones expectations.
The fact remains that Horton was relied upon to be a top line player for Florida. He was seventh on the team, and third amongst forwards in ice time and second in points, trailing only Olli Jokinen. I agree that Horton is an outstanding player and he has already proved he is a top line player for the Florida Panthers but I'm not sure that he is better than Roy.
In comparing Roy to Horton you have to remind yourself that he wasn't asked to be a top line forward with the Sabres last season. Roy will be expected to be a top line guy next season and will be given a better opportunity to be that guy as well. Roy finished fifth in points on the Sabres last season and was seventh in goals scored. His ice time was 11th on the team and fifth amongst forwards. Let's not forget that Roy was an impressive plus 37 last season as well.
I'm not going to make a bold prediction that Derek Roy will be better than Nathan Horton but I see no reason why he can't be. Roy is going to be asked to be a top line player for the first time in his career and he will need to respond. If Roy can improve upon last season we will be saying that paying him only $4 million per season is a steal. It is not a stretch to think that Roy could score 30-35 goals next season and have 40-45 assists for a 70-80 point season. The Sabres made the right move by signing him long term and the price tag is not too high, even when compared to Horton.