The Dallas Stars avoided a salary arbitration hearing with forward Antoine Roussel by signing the 24-year-old to a four-year deal. The contract will pay Roussel $8 million according to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports. Roussel was due for a salary arbitration hearing Tuesday.
The Stars will pay Roussel an annual average of $2 million, giving the pugilistic bottom-six forward a hefty raise contract after showing some versatility in his first two NHL seasons. According to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada, Roussel submitted a request for $2.35 million in an arbitration hearing. The Stars reportedly countered with a $1.15 million offer.
So there was quite a lot of ground to make up, but Roussel brings value to the Stars lineup. As an agitating presence, the 6-foot, 200-pound forward drew 45 penalties last season, which would look better if he didn't take 56 of his own while racking up 209 penalty minutes.
Roussel is getting a rather dramatic raise here from the $625,500 base salary he made last season, but this deal could be as much about what he's expected to do as it is about what he has done so far.
He scored 14 goals last season and put up 29 points, which is pretty solid production for a guy that has had to serve as his team's primary fighter without a traditional enforcer on the roster. A player can play that role so long as he isn't a liability to his team on the ice and Roussel certainly was not that.
His possession metrics via ExtraSkater.com are solid, even if they come against weaker competition. Roussel posted a 52.1 Corsi for percentage last season while starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone.
Having a player that can play at both ends of the ice and be that prickly presence that drives opponents crazy can have value, particularly in the heavy Western Conference.
Maybe $2 million a year is a bit much for a bottom-six forward, but Roussel appears to have some upside having just completed his first 82-game season. The best years of his career likely come during this deal and the Stars also eat up one of his UFA years in the process.