Derek Roy was easily the most celebrated Ranger on the Rangers' Memorial Cup squad, and perhaps that is why it was his team. Derek Roy was named team captain during his fourth complete season in the OHL. The story of Roy's drafting is a rather interesting one. Then GM, Jamie McDonald tipped his hand to most of the OHL when he committed to drafting the smallish center with his first pick, the fourth overall in the OHL. Most thought that Roy would be a bust, especially with a 4th overall pick. As fate would have it, McDonald would end up drafting Steve Eminger 4th overall, McDonald did not expect the three Toronto-based teams to all pass on Eminger, so he changed his course and took the swift-skating defender. Fortunately Roy would still be available in the second round where the Rangers again selected early and the Rangers' effectively got their cake and ate it too! After missing the postseason for the first time in 19 seasons, Roy would have an immediate impact leading the Rangers in scoring with 87 points. His 87 points were the highest total compiled by a Rangers' rookie since '80-'81 when Brian Bellows recorded an astonishing 116 as a 16 year old.
Roy would pretty much start and finish the season on the Rangers' top unit, centering: Ryan Held and Mike Wehrstedt, the next season he would center Matt Passfield and overager: Josh Bennett. Roy's scoring totals would drop slightly, however his penalty minutes would skyrocket, creating a career high. That was a season of frustration for the Roy and the Rangers, they stumbled down the stretch and missed the postseason yet again. For the Rangers' it spelled the end for General Manager: Jamie McDonald. Despite the Rangers lack of playoff action, the Buffalo Sabres selected Roy in the second round of the NHL draft in June.
The change in management meant a new chapter in Roy's junior playing career. He was united with Ryan Ramsay, and Jeff Szwez, a set of completely new wingers who make the Rangers' powerplay one of the most feared in the OHL. The trio combined for 37 man-advantage goals, of the spectacular 99 the team scored during the entire season to pace the OHL in man advantage goals as well as powerplay percentage: 26.8%. Derek as he did during his first two seasons would simply dazzle fans with his moves, dips and deadly shot, recording a career high 89 points including 43 goals. Roy would lead the Rangers in playoff points with a modest 3, during a shocking 4-game sweep by the Guelph Storm. The Rangers were expected to do so much more after improving on their previous seasons' point total by 29, ranking them 5th in a very difficult Western Conference.
In 2002-'03 it all came together for the perennial fan favorite. He started the season on the team's "All-Star line" with wingers Gregory Campbell and Petr Kanko, all of whom played in the CHL All-Star series together. Derek Roy would score the eventual winner in a 2-0 shutout victory over the QJMHL's Eastern Conference, while on home ice, playing in front of Kitchener fans. The whirl-wind season then landed Roy in the World Junior team, representing Canada. Roy joined Campbell in Halifax where they fought hard and received a silver medal for their efforts losing to the Russian Jr. squad. Many of these distractions hurt Roy's final point standings as he missed time while at the Buffalo Sabres camp at the beginning of the season as well. Roy finished with a career-low 78 points, and for the first time in 4 years the Rangers had a new winner for their Jim Reilly Trophy which is given annually to their leading scorer - Michael Richards. Roy had accumulated many other Rangers' honors including most popular player in consecutive seasons and team MVP during his rookie season.
What put the Rangers over the top in the 2002-'03 season
was the Rangers' depth, finally the team didn't have to rely solely on
the scoring of Derek Roy and those on his line. The Roy-line took
much of the heat for the team during the postseason and they were extremely
successful. After leading the Rangers to their first Hamilton Spectator
Trophy since 1989 - given to the OHL's regular season leaders, Roy and
his Rangers tallied all 16 wins required to become OHL champions, the 0-16
win turnaround was the largest in OHL history! Roy, during the postseason
found himself in a familiar spot, leading the team with 32 points in only
21 games. On May 10th, 2003 Roy was presented with the "Wayne Gretzky
99" award given to the OHL's playoff MVP. The Memorial Cup came to
a similar end as the Rangers OHL playoff segment, the Rangers were dominant
winning four straight games, and Roy again was named Most Valuable Player,
along with finding himself on the Memorial Cup All-Star team where he was
joined by 4 other Rangers: Scott Dickie, Steve Eminger, Gregory Campbell,
and Peter Kanko.
Photo: Stephen Gardiner Photography