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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Canucks sign Antoine Roussel to 4-year deal worth $12-million

The Canucks wanted grit. With the unexpected retirement of the Canucks’ only enforcer in Derek Dorsett, Jim Benning needed a replacement.

On the morning of NHL Free Agency, he got his guy. The Canucks signed former Dallas Stars forward Antoine Roussel to bring the toughness, grind, and push-back that they desperately need.

In times of desperation, one must often give up more than they were hoping for. It remains no different in this situation. Roussel’s contract has a term of four years with an average annual value of $3-million.

The Canucks wanted toughness and they certainly got it. We’re all familiar with Roussel’s game during his time with Dallas. He’s the prototypical player that you’d “hate to play against but love on your team.” Think of him as Alex Burrows on steroids.

Roussel is coming off his worst season in 5 years, totaling 17 points (5 goals, 12 assists) in 73 games with the Stars last year. Certainly not eye-catching, but what is is the 126 penalty minutes that he racked up. To put it into perspective, the Canucks’ leading PIM player was Derek Dorsett. His 74 penalty minutes still managed to lead the team, even though he played more than 50 fewer games than most others on the roster.

It’s an overpayment in both length and contract value to bring in the 28 year-old grinder. One can’t argue the $3M+ that he’s receiving because, after all, it is free agency and that’s just how it goes. The 4-year term, however, is the obvious problem. In 4 years, the team will (hopefully) be starting to make a push for the playoffs, and it does them a significant disservice to have over $6M (due to the Jay Beagle signing) in salary cap space tied into the third/fourth line.

Antoine Roussel is locked in. Although the value is high, it’s doable. Term, on the other hand, is a head-scratcher. I guess that shows just how much Jim Benning and company wanted him in the line-up.

  • Whatthe...

    Term is too long but free agency is what it is. Neither deal will negatively impact team long-term. These deals also solidify the PK and will allow the young guys to play offensive minutes.

    Ultimately, these deals are not about the players themselves, it’s about preventing other teams from taking liberties on the young guys and allowing those same young guys to join the NHL team when ready….nothing wrong with young guys spending some time in the AHL.

    Plus deals provide a lot more trade deadline flexibility…need to acquire more picks for the draft in Van.

    • Goon

      This is what the Canucks needed this year – plug some guys in on 1-2 years.

      Three years from now the team should be graduating their prospects and looking to be competitive, and they’ll have Eriksson, Roussel, Gudbranson, Sutter, and Beagle all in their 30s (Eriksson and Beagle in their *late* 30s) taking up over $20 million.

      This is a recipe for keeping this team terrible in perpetuity.

        • NoPainNoGain

          I love how everyone whines about the lack of toughness on this team, and when management goes out and grabs a guy that provides the very thing that they are whining about not having, they hate on management, it does indeed appear that hypocrisy has no bounds. I love the signing, in fact we could probably use another signing just like this one. the young guys like Petterson will need guys like Roussel and Guddy, if you don’t think so, then ask Grapes about how important these guys are to a team.

  • Goon

    Oilers signed Kyle Brodziak for 1.2 million / two years and Tobias Reider for $2 million / one year. Canucks sign Jay Beagle for 3 million / four years and Roussel for 3.2 million / four years.

    I’ve never been so envious of the Oilers and the restraint shown by their management.

    • NoPainNoGain

      Now you want to talk about a management team that knows nothing but blunder, look no further than Edmonton! Wow, talk about all the potential in the world, but nothing is produced, they waste more good talent then any team I have ever seen. They have been rebuilding for how long now? going on 12 years, brutal. And you somehow think that Linden and Benning are making bad decisions? On what basis do you make such an assertion? As far as I can see Linden and Benning are ahead of the curve, we already look way more competitive than people originally thought, we may even push for a playoff spot this year.

  • Kootenaydude

    Can someone please explain all the comments saying the Canucks need extra picks because the draft is in Vancouver. Seems like nothing but a bunch of nonsense to me.

  • Was it just me, or did the panel on Sportsnet seem dumbfounded with Canucks signings?

    Memo to the panel: Canucks need to create an environment that allows young, skilled talent to develop without fear of intimidation. The Canucks never lacked toughness. Both twins, and others, never lacked toughness. What they did lack is meanness. That’s right, they’re not mean, not a mean bone in their bodies, leading to a lack of pushback.
    Oilers were often labelled as soft skill. We can’t have that here. Jim Benning recognized this and did something about it. Young talent can now grow and develop without fear. ( At least that’s how I read it)

    • What complete and utter nonsense.

      Who cares if you’re “mean” if you win 25 games in a season? The Canucks are headed for the basement of the league for the fourth straight season under Benning.

      There’s no connection at all between having goons and mediocre fourth-liners who can barely play and players taking runs at stars. None. Zero. Hal Gill and Matt Cooke didn’t stop Crosby from getting run. Marc Savard’s career was ended and he played for the Big Bad Bruins. This is just a bunch of testosterone-fueled noise with *no* grounding in reality.

      • DJ_44

        I do not buy the “develop without fear” crap.

        None of the UFA signings today are goons. They add some toughness, sure.
        They all are unpleasant to play against. They can all skate and have skill. I hope they bring energy and attitude. They will, if required, step up if someone is taking liberties with one of the kids; as they should.

        They are not taking any of the kids spots. The Canucks have drafted speed and skill.
        Gaunce should be concerned, Gagner should too, and to a lesser extend Granlund. If you are concerned the like of Goldobin or Boucher will not make it, so be it. Work hard and beat out Gagner or Granlund.

    • NoPainNoGain

      There is mental toughness (Sedins) then there is physical toughness (Roussel, Beagle, Guddy). despite the popular belief on many of these boards, both are required to win a cup. Look at all the teams that have won a cup, all of those teams had both. Pens had Crosby, Malkin, who have skill and mental toughness, then they also had Orpik and Kunitz, who have physical toughness that compliments the mental/skill. You need both. If you have all skill and no grit, your team will get run over and destroyed. If you have all grit and no skill, well that equals no goals and no wins, not a great scenario. But if you put the two together, now you have something you can win with. The Canucks have not had this combination since Bertuzzi, Nazzy, and Mo, they had Brashear, and at one point Gino, whom without the team would have suffered greatly. I love these signings, I believe the team is significantly better for them.

  • DJ_44

    The term is a year too long; I can live with the $$. Roussel will not necessarily play on in the bottom six. I have a feeling he will play the left wing with Horvat and Boeser, or with Pettersson and whoever centers that line. He can skate. He will bang, get pucks, create space and be around the net.

    He played some with Seguin and Benn in Dallas. Think a younger, better version of Burrows (who Canucks fans had little problem with give $4Mx4 with full NTC at age 30).

    • When Burrows signed that contract, he had more goals in his past four seasons than Roussel had *points*. They are not at all comparable, and if the Canucks play a guy who scores ~15-30 points per season as their top line left wing, they’re aiming for Jack Hughes.

      If they’re aiming for Jack Hughes that’s fine, but WHY would you sign these guys for FOUR YEARS? It’s baffling.

      • DJ_44

        When Burrows signed that contract, he had more goals in his past four seasons than Roussel had *points*.

        Context might be appropriate. Burrows played on the Canucks top line and received all the O-zone starts afforded the Sedins. Burrows was not a top 3 winger. Most would consider him a middle 6 forward. He was smart, versatile, adapted, and made the most out of his opportunity. He also was a top of the line NHL prick.

        Burrows was in decline when he received his 4-year thank you for past services contract. Rousell has many of the same traits, including skating ability.

        With respect to the 4 years comment; no argument, 1 year too many. It they maintain their play, contracts are moveable for picks or prospects down the road, especially if Canucks retain salary (a form of weaponizing the salary cap).

      • Charlie y

        Looks like a lot of ‘bad’ contracts end in four years. May be the expected point to contend and load up on free agents filling positions of missing talent instead of guarding the kids.

  • myshkin

    benning might have paid a bit too much but today’s contracts are bargains compared to erikkson’s contract. if the leafs trade subban back to vancouver for tanev, it will be time to call for linden’s head. presumably benning’s spending spree was signed off by linden.

    • canuckfan

      Have Imissed something did the leafs sign Subban… Canucks are going to be a much better team next year and yes they will score more goals. I don’t think Benning is finished he will be trading some players such as Goldobin and Granlund for draft picks. Goldie I thought would play with Brock and Bo but with Baertschi signing today he has either been locked up to look enticing or the Canucks want to keep him and Goldie is done.

  • DeL

    I’m in agreement with the majority here. Term is probably a year too long but it’s only a year. These signings bring qualities the team need and possibly open up some trade possibilities. As Whatthe… stated there’s nothing wrong with some of the young guys playing in Utica together it helps build camaraderie. As I recall it didn’t hurt Kesler Bieksa Burrows and a couple of others to play in Winnipeg together for a year or two. It helped create Part of a tight core on argumently the greatest Canuck team ever.