Friday, May 30, 2014

Olivier Roy: 4 Autographed (Custom) Cards

Olivier Roy is a winner in the classic sense of the word: he wins at every level, all the time. In his rookie season in Juniors with the LHJMQ's Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, he won 27 games - a record for a 16-year old - on route to winning the Rookie Of The Year award. All told, he ranked second of all-time for wins in the Q with 123, and is also second on the all-time shutout list.

During his time as an amateur, he played for Team Québec in the ADT Russia-Canada Challenge (now Subway SuperSeries) - in which he was named Player Of The Game in a 5-3 win - and won silver at the 2011 World Juniors, playing for Team Canada.

All of this led to the Edmonton Oilers picking him with the 133rd pick in 2009, a bit of a slip considering he was ranked the second-best North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting which is likely attributable to his size, or lack thereof: he stands at 6 feet tall, and weighs roughly 180 pounds.

And so he made his way from the ECHL's Stockton Thunder to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons, until he got a phone call from Oilers GM Craig MacTavish; he thought he was getting called up, but instead, heard the news of a trade to a new organization - the Calgary Flames - who had no room for him with their AHL affiliate Abbotsford Heat, which meant another return to the ECHL, this time with the Alaska Aces. It took him a week to earn Player Of The Week recognition, for the third time in that league.

With the injuries and uneven play at the NHL level of everyone ahead of him on the depth chart, he did get to play a dozen games with the Heat, going 5-6-1 with a .902 save percentage and a 3.31 GAA. Coupled with his 2.10 GAA and .922 save percentage with the Aces during the regular season, and 2.01 GAA and 6-1 record in 7 playoff games, he has proven to be ready to take it to the next level and perhaps obtain a serious shot at playing 40-some games at the AHL level.

I haven't had too many chances to watch him play since he graduated from Juniors, but I recall a very agile and athletic goalie who had quick reflexes and could move the puck well. With Jake Allen, Dustin Tokarski and Chet Pickard, he was considered among the top goalies in Canada in his age range throughout his years in Juniors, and one of the brightest future prospects. Though he only played in one World Juniors, he was seriously considered for three.

I wrote him a fan letter and sent these four custom cards from my Hell's Kitchen 2013-14 Series 2 set (variants A and B of #17) on April 1st, 2014, saying he could keep a copy of each. Instead, he sent all four back, signed in (fading) black sharpie with his jersey number (31) tagged at the end, from Anchorage, AK, and I received them today, on May 30th (2014), good for a 59-day return:

They are one of each (look up top for all four), first showing him making a signature breakaway save wearing Team Canada's white (home) uniform, then wearing its red practice jersey, getting ready to face shooters in a drill.

Not yet 23, already an individual award winner and silver medalist, I see him graduating to the NHL by the time he's 25.

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