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Ready for liftoff

Wednesday, 03.04.2013 / 7:55 PM / Features
By Derek Jory
The Vancouver Canucks’ biggest acquisition at the 2013 NHL Trade Deadline came in a small package.

Take one look at forward Derek Roy and the first thing that stands out is his size – he’s 5-foot-9 and 190-pounds. He’s not your prototypical centre, but the early reviews from inside the Canucks dressing room are overwhelmingly positive.

Chris Higgins, who lined up alongside Roy and Hansen at practice Wednesday, faced Roy more times than he can count when the pair were division rivals as members of the Montreal Canadiens (Higgins) and Buffalo Sabres (Roy).

Now potential linemates, Higgins is champing at the bit to hit the ice with his foe turned friend.

"I'm really looking forward to it,” said Higgins, buried under a six-week beard. “It's always nice when you get a breath of fresh air in the locker room. From playing against him for a bunch of years in Montreal I know he's a crafty player. He makes some really good passes and he's good around the net and I'm looking forward to seeing his game develop in Vancouver."

As a deadline newcomer himself two seasons ago, Higgins knows how important it is to get your feet wet and feel comfortable right off the hop. He plans on making the transition easy for Roy by potting a few goals.

"He’s smart and savvy and makes really good passes. He's good coming over the blueline. When some guys have to chip it in, he can make that pass through the skates or through the stick. It seems like he works really hard out there, it seems like he wins a lot of puck battles. He should fit in pretty seamlessly."

For Roy, his first impression of skating with Higgins and Hansen was a positive one and now that pleasantries have been exchanged, the learning begins.

“One's got really good speed down the wing and good hands, good finish,” said Roy, of Hansen. “The other one has a good shot as well. I just have to learn their tendencies on the ice and try to mesh well with them.

“I played against Higgins a lot in Montreal. He's a good player. He works hard, he has good speed and makes nice moves and finds linemates. We are just going to have to talk a lot and keep communication lines open.”

Roy has been a great communicator both during his first scrum and via conference call yesterday after being traded, he’s saying all the right things despite admitting he was disappointed he couldn’t help Dallas win a Stanley Cup.

It didn’t take long for his focus to shift towards bringing the Holy Grail to the West Coast.

Roy views the next 12 games as a dress rehearsal for the big dance, the 2012-13 NHL Playoffs, coming in May. He’s intent on not only helping the Canucks finish as high as they can in the standings, but also making noise in the post-season.

“I'm going to try and bring leadership to the team, as well as speed and playmaking ability and finish goals. I’ll try to be an all round two-way player and hopefully we can go deep in the playoffs. Like I said, we have good team here and we can do it, we just have to believe in ourselves.”

Spoken like the agile centre the Canucks hope will be a large (despite his size) piece of their winning puzzle.