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.
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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.
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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.