When the topic of "underrated" players comes up, usually the same few names are mentioned. But if these players are recognized as being underrated, are they really underrated?
So as a loyal Sabres fan, my favorite current player is the epitome of underrated. No one talks about him or thinks to mention him as a force in the league; a young, two-way player with star potential.
Thomas Vanek may be the highest-paid player on the team, but Derek Roy could be the star soon.
Roy, at a diminutive 5'9", has flown under the radar for all of his NHL career (a whopping three seasons so far).
Starring for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, Roy was the 32nd overall pick in the 2001 Draft for the Sabres. He would quietly develop his game with Buffalo's AHL affiliate in Rochester.
Making the big club in 2005-06, Roy has gotten better with each passing season, quietly turning in a very good 80 point campaign in 2007-08 following the departure of centers Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.
This season, Roy centers the top line with Vanek and Drew Stafford (or Maxim Afinogenov) and has made his impact felt with a goal and four assists through the team's first seven games.
As I stated, Roy brings an excellent two-way game to the table. He is very smart in his own end of the rink, but his offensive talents could be what make him recognizable.
He has tremendous speed and skating, getting the puck moving quickly. He's a very good passer, making one of the nicer saucer passes that I've seen in the league. I'd like him to shoot more as I think he's capable of expanding upon his career-high 32 goals from last season.
Roy does have his flaws, however, just like any other player. Some say he's weak on his skates. I say he suffers from Sidney Crosby Syndrome aka diving. He thinks that he can draw penalties by taking the occasional self-induced spill. It's a bit tiresome at times.
Also, this season especially, he seems to be making more bone-headed plays when he's pressured. Nothing costly, but when the team is setting up shop in the offensive zone, he can be rushed into making a bad pass. He needs to shore up this part of his game if he's to thrive offensively.
So to those looking for the next upper-echelon scorer, look no further than Buffalo. After all, I'm sure $50 million-dollar-man Thomas Vanek is happy to be flanking this mighty might.