Coyotes 2022 Offseason Player Reviews: Antoine Roussel

In this week’s edition of Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 offseason player reviews, we’ll take a look at veteran forward Antoine Roussel. After being acquired during the offseason from the Vancouver Canucks along with teammates Jay Beagle and Loui Eriksson for Conor Garland and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Canadian suited up for 53 games with the Coyotes this past season.

Antoine Roussel Arizona Coyotes
Antoine Roussel, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This past season was not the one Roussel hoped for. In addition to registering eight points, he battled through being a healthy scratch and a lengthy injury. Nevertheless, he provided a veteran presence and brought a level of physicality that he’s known for around the league. Set to enter free agency this summer, the question remains whether the Coyotes will re-sign him or not.

Roussel’s Season in Review

Roussel’s past season with Arizona was nothing to gawk at. He played the second most games out of the trio acquired from Vancouver but managed to record just four goals and four assists while adding 59 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of -16. He struggled to stay in the lineup, bouncing in and out as a healthy scratch while also spending time on the team’s COVID-19 protocol list and missing a chunk of time with a lower-body injury.

Related: Coyotes 2022 Offseason Player Reviews: Jay Beagle

Despite struggles to stay healthy and be a regular in the lineup, Roussel proved reliable in other areas, such as being a physical, bottom-six line forward, registering 74 hits and 34 blocked shots. He also proved to be a solid veteran to the team’s younger core, taking command and sticking up for his teammates. He’s cemented himself as a physical role player in the NHL, and if the Coyotes don’t bring him back, someone else in the league might be willing to take a chance on him.

What Roussel Can Improve On, Build off Of

While it’s not easy to list off things Roussel can work on, having cemented his role in the NHL already, there’s always something every player can work on, especially if looking for a new contract. In Roussel’s case, he struggles in the discipline department, having spent 59 minutes in the sin-bin this season. In 607 career games, he’s spent a whopping 1,063 minutes in the penalty box. His play with the puck wasn’t stellar either, turning it over 16 times in 53 games.

Antoine Roussel Arizona Coyotes
Antoine Roussel, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Despite seeming to struggle with or without the puck, Roussel excels at being a pest of sorts. He knows how to get under the opponent’s skin and never fails to turn down a challenge. This has earned him respect from his teammates, who look to him for leadership. Physicality aside, Roussel was a solid centerman for the Coyotes this past season, even though he only won 43.6 percent of his faceoff draws. Without question, there’s more he can work on than areas he excelled well in this past year.

Roussel’s Next Moves

This summer will determine Roussel’s next moves. Set to hit free agency, general manager Bill Armstrong has the power to either bring him back for another season, which is very possible given the team will have issues signing free agents this summer during the beginning of a lengthy rebuild, or choose to move on and replace him this offseason. He’s currently 32 years old and slowing down. The list of teams that will come calling is only going to dwindle, and he will have multiple options to mull over.

The Coyotes are only going to get younger, and while they certainly plan to bring on more expiring contracts, don’t be surprised if Roussel is replaced this summer and left on the outside looking in.

What do you think of Roussel? Let us know in the comments section below. Next week is Loui Eriksson.

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