Roy led the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL with 87 points during the 1999–2000 season, and won the OHL Rookie of the Year trophy. The next season, he scored 42 goals and 81 points. He was drafted 32nd overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. The next season, Roy set OHL career highs in goals and points and continued to be the Rangers’ leading scorer.
In the Fall of 2002, Roy played for the Sabres in their preseason games. Despite his strong showing, he returned to the Rangers for the 2002–03 season, his last in the OHL. Roy captained the Rangers to an OHL championship, amassing 32 points in 21 playoff games en route to capturing the 2003 Memorial Cup. Roy won the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as Memorial Cup MVP.
Roy began the 2003–04 season with the Sabres’ minor league affiliate (at the time), the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. After scoring at point-per-game pace after 26 games with the Americans, he was called up and played the majority of the season in Buffalo, tallying 19 points in his 49-game rookie season.
Roy was back with the Americans the next season due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout. He failed to make the Sabres out of training camp when NHL play resumed in 2005–06. After scoring 20 points in 8 games with the Americans (including a few 5-point performances), he was called up to the Sabres once again. He finished the season with his first two NHL hat tricks on March 3, 2006 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and March 9, 2006 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Roy then complemented a 46-point second-year season with 15 points in the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs as the Sabres advanced to the semi-finals but lost to the eventualStanley Cup champions, the Carolina Hurricanes.
In 2006–07, Roy improved to 63 points as the Sabres captured the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best regular season record. Meeting the Ottawa Senators in the Sabres’ second consecutive semi-finals appearance, Roy scored the fastest goal to start a playoff game in franchise history nine seconds into game four (the league record is six seconds). After the Sabres were eliminated by the Senators, Roy agreed to a 6-year, $24 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres in the off-season, on July 27, 2007.
In his first season under the new contract, Roy led the Sabres in points with 81 and was second in goals with 32 and assists with 49. With the departures of co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere, the Sabres failed to make the playoffs.
During the 2010–11 season, after leading the Sabres’ in points for the first 35 games, Derek Roy suffered a torn quad tendon that would put him out for the rest of the regular season. He would return for just the seventh game of the Sabres’ first-round series against the Flyers, which would prove to be the last game of their season.
In Roy’s last year of major junior hockey, he was selected to play for Team Canada in the 2003 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. He brought home a silver medal and received player of the game honours with a crystal puck.
He made his next international appearance at the 2008 World Championships with Team Canada. In the quarter-finals, he scored a hat trick against Norway in an 8–2 win. Roy earned another silver medal with Canada as they were defeated in overtime of the gold medal game by Russia.
- Named to the OHL All-Rookie Team (2000)
- Awarded the Emms Family Award as OHL Rookie of the Year (2000)
- Named to the CHL All-Rookie Team (2000)
- Awarded CHL Plus/Minus Award (2000)
- Awarded the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as OHL playoff MVP (2003)
- Named to the Memorial Cup All-Star Team (2003)
- Awarded Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as Memorial Cup MVP (2003)
- Played in the NHL YoungStars Game (2004)
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- 2008 statistics (Accessed July 22, 2008)