Vancouver Canucks forward Antoine Roussel has suffered a season-ending injury, but has impacted the team throughout the season.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has not had the best track record with free agency signings, and with the three additions of Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, and Tim Schaller in the past off season, some fans were concerned with the direction of the team.
Last season, Roussel posted 17 points over 73 games, with 126 penalty minutes. With his signing of four years at a cap hit of $3 million, some were left worried with the amount of salary and term given to a player that lacked offence. Roussel was signed for the purpose of adding grit to the team.
Not exactly known for his scoring, Roussel ranks fourth on the team with 31 points over 65 games, plus 118 penalty minutes. This breaks his previous season record for points at 29, and it’s a big improvement from last season. For a duration of the season, Roussel was leading the league in penalty minutes, but has been surpassed by Evander Kane who currently has 149 penalty minutes.
In the lineup, Roussel has been expendable, playing as a winger all throughout the lineup, seeing minutes as high as 19:46 and as low as 8:44. He plays a high energy, aggressive game which provides grit, and checking to the line he plays on.
Roussel has also been one of the more consistent players over the past stretch of games, posting three goals and six points over the past ten games, which ties him for second in team scoring with Alex Biega and puts him two points behind Brock Boeser during that time.
Harman Dayal of The Athletic (subscription required), had this data showcasing Roussel’s effectiveness as a playmaker, being among the leagues best for 5-in-5 Primary Assists.
As a team player, Roussel has rotated as an assistant captain during the injuries of Brandon Sutter, Chris Tanev and Alex Edler. Being that this is Roussel’s first season with the Canucks, he has already proven to be a voice in the changing room and a leader on the ice.
However, during Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers, Roussel suffered a knee injury that will end his season. With 12 games left in the season, this injury could impact the already slimming chances of heading to the playoffs.
In what looks like a bad group of free agents signed by Benning, Roussel is a bright point in the group. Roussel has proven to management, fans, and media alike that he can be an effective top nine player who can add grit, checking, secondary scoring, and stability to the Canucks. Let me know what you think in the comments below.