On February 20th in the Marcel-Dionne Coliseum in Drummondville, as for every game played everywhere when Rimouski Oceanic is in town, all eyes were turned on Sidney Crosby.
Crosby’s left wing and Florida Panthers prospect Dany Roussin had one goal and one assist in that game and as usual, nobody noticed it. Since the beginning of the season this 6’2’’ and 195 pounds forward is playing in the shadow of the young phenom. Roussin told us after that game in Drummondville he has no problem with that as he can quietly do his own business.
A slow start
A Quebec City native, Roussin was a Sherbrooke Castors first round pick in 2001 at the annual QMJHL Midget Entry Draft. As a 16-year-old player, he struggled a little bit in his first season, recording only 24 points in 66 games.
Unfortunately, things did not improve the following and NHL drafting eligibility year as he played on third and fourth lines and had only 16 points after 33 games. But Roussin was traded to Rimouski in mid-season and suddenly, everything changed. He doubled his production, recording 38 points in 38 games, ranking Rimouski’s second best scorer with 54 points.
“Sometimes, just a team transfer can bring a great advantage,” said Rimouski Oceanic coach and former NHLer Donald Dufresne after that game in Drummondville. “Roussin rolled up his sleeves when he joined the Oceanic and is very happy right now,” stressed Dufresne.
Roussin admits that in the past he “had a lack of maturity and confidence on the ice. When I had having the puck, I was immediately searching a way to get rid of it, now I’m more confident and I have no problem to keep it, waiting for a better play.”
By the end of 2002-03 season, his total of 78 points over two seasons in the QMJHL was not impressive. Roussin was then selected in the roster of the U18 Team Canada in April. He went in Yaroslav, Russia but got only one assist not having a lot of ice time.
His improvement in the second part of the season was either not enough or unnoticed by the Central Scouting Service who ranked him 127th in North America.
“I decided to opt in anyway for the annual NHL Entry Draft,” said Roussin. Finally, Florida Panthers used their tenth choice to select him late in the seventh round, 223rd overall. On February 20th in Drummondville, referring to his 2003-04 record, Roussin said with a large smile he thinks he “surprised them a little bit”.
In the 2003-04 season, Roussin forged ahead. With only six games to play in the regular season, he leads the QMJHL in goals with 51 and is second for the total of points with 105, having only Sidney Crosby ahead of him.
Among other notable achievements, Roussin ranks first for the powerplay goals with 21. His 248 shots on goal places him fourth overall in the league. He ranks third for the efficiency of shots on goal with 20.6 percent.
Roussin began the season on the first line with Edmonton Oilers prospect first rounder Marc-Antoine Pouliot while Sidney Crosby was playing with Montreal Canadiens fourth rounder prospect Dany Stewart. Roussin recorded a great amount of points.
While Pouliot was off the roster because of an injury, once in a while Roussin began to play on Crosby’s line and his production increased. Then, Crosby missed 11 games because of the WJC but Roussin’s production didn’t decrease significantly, proving he was able to maintain his production in absence of both Pouliot and Crosby.
“Last summer, I defined high goals for myself for the 2003-04 season and I worked very hard in the off-season to reached them,” stated Roussin.
Sidney Crosby and Dany Roussin form the best duo in the QMJHL right now. “He is a very fast guy,” commented Crosby with enthusiasm after that game in Drummondville. “He is a real sniper, he can put the puck in the net and makes a lot of room for me; indeed, we complement each other very well,” added Crosby about his teammate.
When asked to name a quality of Roussin, his coach said that he is strong physically. The tall and big left winger told us he has to improve his physical game.
Dany Roussin had a great 2003-04 season, but the next one could be more important for his future. Roussin expects to stay one more year in the QMJHL. The 1985 born player will have a very reasonable chance to show off for Team Canada at the 2005 World Junior Championship.
He will complete his junior stage with the best junior player seen since a long long time, and have the privilege to carry on his development with the same team who lately produced talented players like Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards.
Simon Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the Summit Series published in 2002.