By Nick Nollenberger
A season ago, Jeremy Roy tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee, ending his season with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and by default finishing his junior career.
Roy could have returned to the QMJHL this season as an overager, but the Sharks brain trust made it clear that the best place for Jeremy’s development was in San Jose in the American Hockey League. Can you blame them? Five different defensemen have split time between the Sharks and the Barracuda since the Barracuda were established in 2015 (Dylan DeMelo, Joakim Ryan, Tim Heed, *Mirco Mueller and *Matt Tennyson), proving the AHL as the perfect platform for young defensemen.
“It’s encouraging seeing guys like Joakim Ryan playing big minutes with Brent Burns right now in the NHL and a couple of weeks ago he was down with us,” said Roy.
“This week Jeremy is working with Bryan Marchment, and the coaching he’s getting every day from Roy (Sommer) and Mouge (Ryan Mougenel) is tremendous. When he's here, he is surrounded by all types of people who can mentor him,” said Barracuda General Manager Joe Will.
Roy didn't make the Barracuda only because of the environment that has been built in San Jose, he earned his opportunity in the American League after his strong performance in training camp.
“In training camp he earned his chance to continue on with the Barracuda,” said Will. “That’s what we look for. Is he mature enough? Because we had options for him to go back to junior or stay here, and he passed that test.”
“It’s fun to get that confidence and trust from the coaching staff and management,” said Roy. “When I was told I was going to stay here, I knew the work had only begun. I’m trying to earn the faith of the coaches, one game at a time.”
The Sharks’ second-round pick (#31 overall) in 2015 is the highest drafted player on the Barracuda’ roster this season and it’s second youngest. The 20-year-old has gained confidence in both his knee and his game every time he’s stepped on the ice this season.
“Every game I play I feel more comfortable, every shift I play, it’s a process but I’m feeling more confident, and I’m getting more and more comfortable with my teammates and defensive partners,” said Roy.
Roy’s mix of defensive prowess and offensive upside made him an intriguing option for the Sharks in the NHL draft two years ago.
The modern professional game requires defenseman to shut down the opposing teams best players while adding offense when called upon. The Sharks believe in the future he can fit that mold.
“We liked Jeremy in the draft because he’s dynamic and he epitomizes where the game is going,” said Will. “He’s technically and tactically really sound, he’s a good skater, and he has a high upside.”
Roy was one of 10 rookies on San Jose’s opening-night roster in early October, and he has continued to gain more opportunities as of late. Frequently being penciled into the lineup after being healthy scratched several times over the first couple of weeks of the season.
“I can help this team when I play a complete game. I want to be stable defensively but bring offense too... I've just got to play within myself every time I'm out there."