Golden Knights’ Nicolas Roy takes advantage of the opportunity

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The injuries to four of the Golden Knights’ top nine strikers during the first month of the season opened the door for someone to step into a bigger role.

No one has utilized more than Nicolas Roy.

The 24-year-old center got a look at the first line when William Karlsson went down with a broken foot and grabbed the job.

Roy produced five points in his first three games between wingers Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith before being kept without points in a win over Seattle on Tuesday at the T-Mobile Arena.

“You can give that opportunity to someone who has not deserved it and they will not do with it what he has done,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “He’s successful because he took all the right steps to make himself deserving of the opportunity to be the guy to go in there, and he’s ready for it.”

Last season, Roy had a 24-game goal drought from February 11 to April 1, but he took a step forward in his development during the playoffs with four goals and nine points in 19 appearances.

In the Stanley Cup semifinal series against Montreal, the native of Amos, Quebec, received a shot of confidence from scoring the overtime winner in Game 4 to leveling the series.

“I just thought that instead of just surviving the shift or trying to get away from the ice even without making mistakes, he’s starting to want the puck and dictate how the shift should go,” DeBoer said. “The challenge at the end of last season at our year-end meeting was to continue where he left off in the Montreal series and bring it into this season, and he has done that.”

Roy was not DeBoer’s first choice to stop the hole on the first line when Karlsson was put on the sideline, which seems strange in hindsight. Brett Howden auditioned for Toronto on November 2 and lasted a period before Chandler Stephenson was offended.

For the next game in Ottawa, Roy was deployed in the role of 1C and had two assists in a 5-1 victory. He solidified his spot over the next two games and enters Thursday’s home game against Minnesota in second place on the team in assists (six) and in third place in points (eight).

“When I get into my third season, I feel better,” Roy said. “I think I can bring more offensively, bring more to the table, and I think I’ve been able to do that so far.”

In their short time together, the Knights have generated 56.7 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts when the Marchessault-Roy-Smith line is on the ice.

They have also been opportunistic and owned a plus-4 goal difference (5-1) despite producing 2.23 expected goals with even strength.

“When you play with different guys on the third, fourth line, you try to bring some energy,” Roy said. “With these guys, we try to do something every time we’re on the ice. Come up with some insult.”

Karlsson and Max Pacioretty each had six weeks’ schedules to return from their injuries, while Mark Stone and Nolan Patrick remain on the sidelines with less definite prospects.

Subject to a move to become compatible with the pay cap, Roy is expected to slide back down the ranks when the Knights are at full strength. His improvement makes the bottom six attacker group even deeper.

“There have been some guys, and not just young guys, but some guys who have really taken a step like the world’s Nic Roys and really helped us win matches with key guys out,” DeBoer said. “Where we sit right now, and our record is a testament to the depth of the organization.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.