The Arizona Coyotes’ rebuild started shortly after the 2020-21 season ended. General Manager Bill Armstrong shipped out Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the Vancouver Canucks to acquire the pick that would turn into Dylan Guenther and three veterans. Forward Antoine Roussel was one of the veterans that the Canucks shipped over. Roussel and the others weren’t expected to contribute many goals, but Vancouver needed to clear cap space, and they still had something to offer.
Games Played: 53
TOI/Games Played: 12:09
PP TOI: 1:49
PK TOI: 91:36
Before signing a four-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks, Roussel had only played for one team, the Dallas Stars. The undrafted native of Roubaix, France, was never the splashiest player, but Vancouver took a chance on him and signed him to a decent deal.
Roussel was never a high-offense player, so minimal production in Arizona isn’t a surprise. He did better than his last season with the Canucks, but only eight points for a player with a $3 million cap hit isn’t good enough.
But the Coyotes did get a solid bottom-six veteran in Roussel, who the team could put on the ice when they needed to preserve a lead late in the game. He also contributed to special teams and was a mainstay on the Coyotes’ penalty kill.
Along with fellow former-Canuck Loui Eriksson, Roussel played a lot on the penalty kill. As a result, Roussel was sixth among all Coyotes players in short-handed time on ice and third among forwards behind Lawson Crouse and Eriksson. He likely would have finished below Clayton Keller if Keller didn’t miss the end of the season with a lower-body injury, but that is still a significant amount of time.
Despite not showing up on the scoresheet, Roussel was a player that you tended to miss when he was hurt. The Coyotes desperately need people who can score goals, but Roussel did an excellent job keeping pucks out of the net, which is also needed. Even if fans weren’t excited to see him, I’m sure Karel Vejmelka and Scott Wedgewood appreciated Roussel being in front of them.
Roussel is an unrestricted free agent and probably isn’t going to be returning to the Desert Dogs. The team doesn’t have much space left, and they have plenty of players to fill out their bottom six.
Roussel comes off a four-year, $12 million deal, and he will probably need to take a pay cut for his next contract. He is only 32 years old, so he should have a few more seasons left if a team wants to take a chance on a depth veteran.