Add Antoine Roussel to the growing list of Dallas Stars players skating at the team’s practice facility in Frisco. Roussel is back after an eventful summer. He moved into a new house in Quebec and, of course, there was that new contract.
“I bought a house in Quebec, a place I can call home all the time instead of my parents’ home, which is good,” Roussel said. “Now that I am going to be here for four years, I have two homes. It is awesome.”
In July, Roussel and the Stars avoided salary arbitration, agreeing to a four-year deal worth $8 million. Not bad for a guy who was never drafted and caught the attention of Stars scouts a couple years ago while playing in the American Hockey League.
“I got a great contract. I wanted to stay here for a long time. We were on the same page, so I am really happy. I am excited to get back at it,” Roussel said. “The work is not done yet and I’ll be working until my career is over. [The contract] gives me stability and I love it. It’s nice.”
The 24-year-old native of France is coming off his first full NHL season. He registered 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 81 games in 2013-14 and ranked third in the league with 209 penalty minutes. There is plenty of work to be done as he enters the first year of the new deal.
“Scoring more. I always want to get better in my game overall, get smarter, get more skills, more shots,” he said. “Now it is getting the details in. It’s a game about details, so I want to work on those small things that will make me a better player and put me in the best situation to score more goals.”
Roussel is one of the game’s better agitators, and although he racked up big penalty minutes last season, he believes he is learning to cut down on the bad penalties that can hurt the team.
“When you look at it, I got 200 penalty minutes, but it was a lot of 10-minute penalties, so for me it is not a game changer,” he said.
The speedy forward arrived back in town Sunday and is excited to join the informal skates now underway in Frisco. Most of the players are back, and training camp is less than two weeks away.
“It’s always fun to see the boys and get back at it,” Roussel said. “Just to feel the atmosphere here with the new guys, it is awesome.”
Roussel skated with the new guys Monday. Forwards Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky and Patrick Eaves and goaltenders Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynnas – the team’s key offseason acquisitions - were all out on the ice, and Roussel is excited to see how things will take shape in camp.
“It’s always tough seeing good friends leaving, but when you see the guys they brought in we are really fortunate to have those guys. They are going to help us and be a big part of our team,” Roussel said. “We have a nice group of forwards and I am excited to see how it is going to fall into place. I can’t wait for the start of the season.”
“Top to bottom in the organization, everybody can’t wait to get going. I bet the fans are ready, too. It’s going to be fun.”
And for Roussel, fun equals winning. He’s still waiting to go on a good playoff run, something he hasn’t experienced much during his hockey career in the pros or at the junior level.
“I just want to win,” he said. “I am tired of losing. It’s been a long time for me. I want to get on a streak, winning some playoff games and get on a run. That’s my main goal for this season.”
Stars skating in Frisco
Antoine Roussel, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Garbutt, Kevin Connauton and prospects Curtis McKenzie, Cameron Gaunce, Matej Stransky and Ludwig Karlsson were among the latest players to start skating in Frisco this week.
Here’s a list of players who have skated over the past few weeks.
Goaltenders: Kari Lehtonen, Anders Lindback, Jussi Rynnas
Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Kevin Connauton, Trevor Daley, Cameron Gaunce, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, John Klingberg, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak
Forwards: Jamie Benn, Erik Cole, Patrick Eaves, Vernon Fiddler, Ryan Garbutt, Scott Glennie, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Ludwig Karlsson, Curtis McKenzie, Valeri Nichushkin, Antoine Roussel, Colton Sceviour, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Matej Stransky
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.