WICHITA, Kan. – It’s rare to see two bitter rivals make a trade with each other, but roster needs have a way of making strange bedfellows. Such was the case Thursday when the Wichita Thunder acquired fourth-year defenseman Eric Roy from the Allen Americans in exchange for forwards Greg Chase and Mitch Maloney.
Roy is expected to make his team debut when Wichita hosts Kansas City tomorrow night at INTRUST Bank Arena.
For the Thunder, they pick up an offensive defenseman who has proven to be a fixture on the Allen blueline. Roy has played in 170 regular-season games and piled up 101 points (42G, 59A), including three straight 30-point seasons. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs, Roy has posted 28 points (6G, 22A) in 41 games, including 21 points (5G, 16A) in 23 Kelly Cup playoff games in 2016.
“He has a ton of talent, great with his stick and a great shot from the point,” says The Sin Bin’s Allen correspondent Barry Janssen. “He wins puck battles with his stick and is great on the first pass to get the puck out of the zone.”
Roy will help stabilize a banged up defensive corps, a group that has been without Tyler Elbrecht, Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin and Dylan Labbe for the last several games. Last season, Roy had more goals than Jeremy Beaudry and Travis Brown. Additionally, Roy will help immensely on the power-play, which is one of the worst in the ECHL. In his career, 47 of Roy’s 101 points have come on the power-play (19G, 28A) and he will be called upon now to help quarterback the power play with Brown.
“Our power play has been hit and miss and while we’ve had a lots possession and some good looks on our power-play, we haven’t cashed in a whole lot,” Thunder head coach Malcolm Cameron said. “I felt like we needed an experienced go-to power-play guy because power-play is such an important part of the game.”
Cameron also cited that the team had 15 forwards on both the active roster and injured reserve:
“When you have that many forwards, it’s hard to keep everyone happy,” Cameron remarked. “It’s also hard to keep the same lineup every night because you’re trying to get guys in the lineup that you haven’t played a lot and I wanted some more continuity with the lineup. To get something, you have to give something good up. And d-men are a hot commodity and there aren’t as many experienced d-men out there as forwards.”
Even with Thursday’s trade, Wichita still has 13 forwards on the active roster and injured reserve. Cameron told The Sin Bin both Ryan Van Stralen and Tyler Elbrecht are very close to returning to the Thunder lineup.
“I feel very confident in our depth after making the trade,” Cameron said.
On the Allen side of the house, the need for Steve Martinson was fresh forwards. The Americans have been banged up on the front end to start the season, with Kevin Sundher out and, most notably, Casey Pierro-Zabotel being out indefinitely with an injury. Prior to the trade, Chase had started to find his offensive stroke, picking up four points (2G, 2A) in his last three games, while being on a line with Steven Iacobellis and P.C. Labrie. Maloney scored his first goal as a professional last Sunday against Allen.