In our last look at possible targets for the Edmonton Oilers this offseason, we examined the option of Edmonton seeing if Brandon Carlo was available out of Boston. I got chewed up pretty good by Boston fans who said there’s no way the Bruins would let him go. They took issue with my use of the term “depth” defender and while it wasn’t meant as an insult — more a way to suggest he’s not yet a proven top-two or top-three blueliner — it did show how perception of a player can make a huge difference when examining the value of one particular trade target and what it might take to acquire them.
With that in mind, one type of player we’ve not really looked at yet is the talented or “offensively-gifted” enforcer.
The role of the enforcer is not what it once was. Few players who can only offer toughness seem to make it in today’s NHL but players who can produce and provide a deterrent can be useful. Perhaps not to every GM or every team thinks so, but there is a role on many teams for this type of player and the Oilers thought they’d found that in Milan Lucic, who they paid handsomely to acquire. Understanding the Oilers may not have plans to move Lucic (nor could they), would a less expensive option who offers similar skills be something Edmonton should consider?
Longtime Oilers reporter and journalist Jim Matheson suggests the Oilers might be interested in Antoine Roussel.
Related: Should Oilers Go for Brandon Carlo?
Related: Should Oilers Go for Jeff Skinner?
Related: Should Oilers Go For Patrick Maroon?
Related: Should Oilers Go for Justin Faulk?
Why Is Roussel Available?
Here’s what we know. Roussel is an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. It could be the Dallas Stars want to re-sign him (most accounts are they like him) but they may also let him walk away if the ask is too high by Roussel’s camp. Considered a pest by almost every other team except the Stars, Roussel is the kind player you don’t mind having on your team but hate to play against. But, what is that worth?
He is 28 years old and should not an expensive option. He had a down year in 2017-18 with five goals and 17 points in 73 games and he’s not a dynamic scorer by any stretch — his best season being 14 goals and 29 points — but perhaps he could help as a depth option. (there I go, using the word depth again).
Matheson says, “If the Oilers are looking for a role player on July 1 and the price is right, how can they go wrong on Dallas left winger Antoine Roussel, 10 pts in 16 career games against Oilers and has always been pain in the butt to play against. He’s coming off poor year and they might get him cheap.”
How Would Rousell Help the Oilers?
If Roussel does the things he’s good at, while staying on task, he could be a useful piece. Like a Zack Kassian who came over was productive for the Oilers the year the team made the playoffs, there is a role for guys like Roussel and he offers the potential for more offense. That said, there is a risk here.
First, he could be trending downward if this past season is the norm and not an outlier. Second, his reputation often overshadows his production. Those kinds of players make it hard to know when the line is being crossed and when it’s a useful tool during a game. Sometimes Roussel doesn’t know the difference. If he is more Alex Burrows and less David Perron, it might not be a great idea. But, if all the pieces are right and Roussel rebounds a bit, Edmonton could pick him up and try to fit for him on the third line.
What Would A Deal Look Like?
Rousell would be just money. An unrestricted free agent this summer, Edmonton would just have to offer the right term and dollar figure while finding a spot for him on the team. That might not be so easy. If the Oilers are going to move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a permanent spot at left wing and have Lucic follow him, they still have Pontus Aberg and Jujhar Khaira filling out the roster with Drake Caggiula and possibly Mike Cammalleri available for that position. Roussel would have to be considered a better option than all four (Aberg, Khaira, Caggiula, Cammalleri) of those guys because he’d be the most expensive option.
Depending on your perspective of what the Oilers already have at their disposal, you might be happy to hear or bummed to find out that the Edmonton Oilers might think Roussel is an upgrade. If you’ve watched Roussel play against Connor McDavid and company, he’s played quite well. Sometimes, GM’s are prone to be attracted to a player who has hurt their team in the past.