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Defenseman Eric Roy, Métis, Is a Top National Hockey League Prospect

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Eric Roy continues to make a name for himself in Canadian junior hockey circles. As a result it's little surprise the 17-year-old Métis is being projected as an early pick for the 2013 National Hockey League Entry Draft next June. Roy, a 6-foot-3 defenseman, is currently in his third season with the Manitoba-based Brandon Wheat Kings, members of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Besides his size, pro scouts are also raving about Roy's offensive abilities and his physical play. He's earned 11 points, including three goals, in Brandon's first 18 matches this season. A year ago Roy collected 53 points in 69 matches. But he said he had not established any point total that he is aiming to reach this season. "I just try to keep things simple," he said. "I just want to help this team win some hockey games. And hopefully we can go pretty far in the playoffs." Since this is Roy's NHL draft season, his future in the game is undoubtedly also on his mind. "I try to keep my game simple and I try not to think about it," he said. But that can be somewhat challenging at times. Especially when others constantly bring up the fact this is his draft year. Roy admits a day rarely goes by without him hearing about the draft. "It's brought up all the time," he said. "But like I said, I try not to think about it." Roy has seen or heard about the various draft rankings that are out there. The majority of these rankings believe he will be a late first-round pick at the draft, which will be staged June 28-29 in New Jersey. Though many predict he's capable of being a first-rounder, Roy is not entirely satisfied with his projected place in the draft. "I try not to focus on it too much," he said. "I just want to work hard. And hopefully I can get a little higher (in the rankings)." At this point Roy said he does not have a preference whether he gets drafted by a Canadian or American franchise. "It doesn't matter," he said. "Just to get drafted would be really nice." Regardless of which club drafts him, Roy has two seasons of junior eligibility remaining after this current campaign. And he anticipates returning to Brandon for at least one more season of grooming. "I think I'll be back here again next year," he said. "I've got lots of things to work on." Roy is playing about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from his hometown of Beauval, Saskatchewan. He actually left home at the age of 14 to play a season of midget hockey in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, before joining the Wheat Kings. Roy's rookie season in Brandon, however, had its ups and downs. A concussion and a couple of other injuries limited him to 49 games during the 2010-11 campaign. He had 19 points and just four goals that year. He really started getting some recognition during his sophomore season. He was also named the Wheat Kings' most improved player last season. Though most people take note of one's goal and assists totals, Roy is also trying his best to take care of business in his end of the rink as well. "We've been harping about that," he said about defensive play. "D-zone is one of the most important parts of hockey." Thus it's a good thing that he enjoys neutralizing opponents. "I try to be physical," he said. "And I try to throw my weight around." Roy tips the scales at 187 pounds these days. He'd like to get up closer to the 200-pound mark by draft day next June. That's a challenge, however, considering the gruelling 72-game WHL regular season schedule. "It's definitely tough (to put on weight during the season)," he said. "You just have to drink lots of water and eat lots of protein."

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