Of the handful of players invited to pad out the roster for the Canucks’ Young Stars team in Penticton, three impressed: Karel St. Laurent, Nathan Longpre, and Antoine Roussel. At the end of the tournament, all three were invited to main camp and, while they failed to earn contracts with the Canucks, each was eventually assigned to the training camp of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves.
Antoine Roussel has already made the most of the opportunity, signing a contract to join the Wolves forward corps’ for the upcoming season.
While Longpre and St. Laurent were the two invitees that stood out most to fans, the Canucks’ brass really warmed to Roussel, who resembles a young Alex Burrows both in his practical, aggressive play, and in his French-ness. The task for Roussel will now be mirroring Burrows’ upward trajectory, rather than stalling on the AHL bubble.
Roussel actually played in the AHL last year as well, dressing for 42 games with the Providence Bruins after attending their camp on a tryout and earning a contract. (Roussel rocks camps. He’s like the Jonas Brothers.) After winning a job, however, he was only so-so, shuffling back and forth between Providence and the Reading Royals of the ECHL. Then, at end of the season, Providence chose not to retain him.
Needless to say, Roussel would prefer not to go through that again. He’s made the most of his opportunity so far, but if he takes a step backwards, he’ll find himself attending training camp on another tryout next year, and who knows if he lucks out three times in a row? A step forward, on the other hand, could mean his next two-way contract features an NHL stamp. And maybe he’ll actually get to play a game in a Canucks jersey, rather than just pose in it for photo day.
If you’re wondering, Nathan Longpre and Karel St. Laurent have yet to sign, but both remain with the team. The Wolves open the season on Saturday, October 8th, so they have a little time to make a decision. Longpre has made a compelling case for himself, scoring twice in the three preseason games that he’s played, and St. Laurent was strong in half a game last week.