The Vancouver Canucks have struggled recently but have received a boost in the form of Antoine Roussel. The former Dallas Stars agitator has only played in eight games in 2019-20 but is already one of the interesting players after missing most of the early season. There are some solid underlying numbers that should help the team moving forward.
Antoine Roussel Excelling in December
Roussel missed much of the year but returned with a burst of scoring. He posted three goals in his first two games. Overall, Roussel has four goals, four points 13 shots and just eight penalty minutes in eight games since returning from injured reserve. His PIM-per-game rate has never been below 1.5 for a full season but Roussel is averaging just one minute per night.
There is a very good chance the 30-year-old French wing could maintain this pace. His Corsi For is the worst of his entire career by a significant margin so the rest of the year could be huge if that normalizes without impacting his traditional stats. His career Corsi For percentage is above 50 percent so don’t expect it to stay at a brutal 38.2.
Roussel’s most interesting stat aside form his outrageous shooting percentage is his expected goals. He is scoring just over 2.5 goals per 60 minutes according to Evolving Hockey at all strengths combined*. That number is the best in the league over players like David Pastrnak. Roussel will regress but he still has an expected goal rate of 1.25 per 60 minutes; still a high number but not so outrageous or unsustainable. It helps that Roussel’s four goals have all come within a few feet of the crease. He is scoring from an area most often reserved for bigger players but is doing a great job with his 5’11”, 199 pound frame.
What This Means for the Rest of the Season
Vancouver is in a strange position. They have a talented roster but are struggling to stay above .500 and currently sit fifth in the Pacific Division. None of their stars are visibly struggling but the Canucks are having some bad luck keeping them where they are. They will be in a much stronger position if Roussel can continue his early hot streak. He deserves more ice time than 11:48 per night with his current production.
*Expected Goals and other advanced stats come thanks to the fantastic work at Evolving Wild. You can explore more of their work at www.evolving-hockey.com.