Well, it’s almost the weekend!
And I will be out of town, so you get the weekend to take a break from my opinions and analysis…
PSYCH! I’ll have a couple posts set for Saturday and Sunday but it won’t be as hostile on the site as it has been the last two weeks.
Here’s the next report card for your morning coffee break, #21, The Angry Frenchman, Antoine Roussel:
Antoine Roussel spent his first FULL season in Dallas with a no holds barred attitude and an “I’ll kick your a**” (pardon my French, hehe) mentality. His physicality was what made his name surface in the NHL.
Antoine Roussel made his stamp on the Stars organization during the lockout season. He skated in 39/42 games and netted 7 goals and acquired 7 assists with 85 PIM.
This season was a different story. He scored 14 goals and tallied 15 assists in 81 of the 82 possible regular season games, so he is pretty reliable like Cody Eakin. But the crazy numbers were, you guessed it, in the penalty minutes category. This angry French dude made sure the NHL knew his name and tried his best to have the nickname “The Enforcer” stick for good. He held a team leading 209 penalty minutes in the regular season, with a few (lot of) fights here and there. That’s an average of 2:30 minutes per game in the box. But his most recognized performance was his 17 minute penalty served in the season opener against Florida which was comprised of a 10 minute game misconduct, 5 minute fighting major, and 2 minute instigator penalty. So, as you can tell, he spent a majority of his time serving time in the box. This was cause for concern with Ruff and he had to straighten Roussel out a few times throughout the season as a result.
But Roussel is a part of the Three Musketeers along with misfits Cody Eakin and Ryan Garbutt, who together found a way to give every team fits throughout the season. This group could be the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think about the Dallas Stars in the years to come and the Stars are very lucky to have all three of them skating together in green every night.
Roussel skated in all 6 of the Stars playoff games (like I said, a reliable guy when he’s not icing his knuckles in the box). He wasn’t able to find a mark in the goal category but he was able to help out significantly in the assists department with a total of 3A at the end of his playoff debut.
The memorable parts of Roussel’s regular and postseason appearances mainly involved knocking someone’s teeth out. His knuckle tosses were what kept most fans entertained throughout the long October to April journey.
Antoine Roussel’s contract expires after the 2013-2014 season. He’s was making $625,000 a year with a cap hit of $612,500. He will be an RFA upon expiration.
So one more time, in case any have forgotten, an RFA basically means he is still kind of a part of the Stars organization. Roussel cannot talk with other teams freely until July 1st. The Stars have until this date to send him a contract and give him the chance to accept or deny it. If another team sends him this wacky thing called an offer sheet, he shows the Stars and they have 5 days to either match the offer made by the opposing team which would guarantee him locked down with the Stars for another year or they can deny the match and he can pack his bags and head off to the great beyond.
I honestly don’t know how the Stars organization will handle this one, so we will just have to wait and philosophize like philosophers until then.
In my opinion:
With the physical edge Roussel adds to his average forward abilities, I would consider re-signing him and also consider letting him go.
On the one hand, if you do re-sign him, he definitely needs a raise and a new longish-term deal. His physicality and down-and-dirty view on the ice is basically unmatched by any other NHL player. This can help motivate a team going forward in a game or possibly put him on the ice to take down a big name or simply provoke the opposing team’s MVP and get his temper to overflow, then proceed to beat down on him like the hand of God. So for that reason you would have to re-sign him, develop his skills a little more, and then have a deep-threat two-way forward who knows how to work with the puck and can drop the mitts at the drop of a hat (haha).
But with this can come trouble. If Roussel accidentally steps across the line with his shenanigans, he heads off to his vacation spot in the box and the Stars penalty kill suffers as it did so much this past season, largely due to Roussel’s fowl play in the first place. And by that token, get this goofball out of our city and never let him come back.
But my glorified and beautiful (I wish) opinion falls in the first category, so I would like to see Roussel re-signed with pay raise and 2 year deal, just until we see whether his on ice skills increase and he becomes a better quality puck handler, and if so give him an extension, but be cautious at first.
The bottom line on Antoine Roussel:
No one and I mean no one expected Antoine Roussel, the tiny guy from a country that is known for their surrenders throughout history, to be as gritty as he turned out to be and useful to the Stars fore check. He has adapted to the climate that is the NHL and fit in rather nicely using his peskiness to catch everyone off guard and enrage most.
The Stars can either re-sign or send Roussel packing:
If they re-sign him, they can use his devilish intentions to their advantage, as long as he can learn how to avoid unnecessary penalties to the best of his ability. They can update his skills on the offensive side of the puck and get him to where he needs to be when trying to play a 2nd or 3rd line RW in the NHL. If all this can fall into place evenly, the Stars could be looking at a franchise tag and crowd pleaser that could stick with the organization for many years to come.
If they let him go, there wouldn’t be much gain to it. The team would certainly drop in penalty minutes, that is a dead-on guarantee. But they wouldn’t be freeing up any mentionable amount of cap space, and they would be giving up their most rebellious and relentless player basically to the highest bidder that Roussel accepts when he hits the FA market. The young talent could be used on a thriving young team such as the Stars.
Overall, expect him to be re-signed, just because he’s that guy you always want on your bench and he’s on his way up in the big league ranks.
The Stars are truly rising and the young guys are the reason for it. If they can find these tiny additions they are desperately needing, such as I talk about in my wants and needs posts, then they will be ready to punch a ticket all the way to the top and Roussel could be a big part in getting that ticket punched.
Comments if you got em and GO STARS.