Considering how scrappy Antoine Roussel is, it makes sense that the Dallas Stars are glad they avoided a salary arbitration squabble with him by agreeing to a four-year, $8 million contract on Tuesday.
More than that, management clearly seems high on the pugnacious forward, as you can see from GM Jim Nill’s comments to the Dallas Morning News.
“We think he’s a big part of our team going forward, and we wanted to get him locked up,” Nill said. “He’s a character guy who has worked hard to become an NHL player. It was important for us to get this done with him.”
As Defending Big D notes, the 24-year-old forward was a key part of a nice checking line alongside Ryan Garbutt and Cody Eakin last season.
Roussel was a surprise addition to the team coming out of the lockout in 2013 and was seen as merely fourth line depth, but quickly established himself as a player that can have a significant impact on the game. Playing at times on the second line in 2013-14, Roussel became one of the best checking line forwards for the Stars last season while also proving capable of adding some offensive pop when needed.
The Stars gave themselves two fantastic one-two offensive punches in the form of Tyler Seguin – Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky, yet that also shifts a lot of the “dirty work” to players like Roussel. Considering Roussel’s fairly handsome reward in the form of that new deal, it’s clear that the franchise values the “grunt work” too.