After just two games, Remi Elie has won a job with the Dallas Stars for the rest of the season.
The 21-year-old left wing made his NHL debut this past Saturday against the Florida Panthers as an emergency recall for Antoine Roussel and he impressed in a 2-1 victory. Elie, a second-round pick in 2013, used his speed to his advantage and was hard on the puck. He also had a couple of scoring chances and was immediately trusted on the penalty kill.
It showed the Stars enough to give the rookie a second game in a 4-2 win against the Washington Capitals Monday. Since Adam Cracknell was healthy Elie was no longer an emergency recall, but Ruff opted to go with the rookie over Jiri Hudler.
On Tuesday Ruff confirmed that Elie is part of his plans for the final 16 games of the season.
“Well, I look at what we need on the road to be a better team, a harder team to play against. I think that he fits what I think can help us. I thought the line of (Cody) Eakin, him and Hemsky did a real good job,” Ruff said. “You look at the number of chances he created, the duress he put their defense under and the fact that he’s a physical player. I think there’s been some situations where we haven’t been hard enough to play against. You take Roussel of our lineup and I think that’s a good replacement to continue down that path where we’re hard to play against.”
In a way it’s unexpected, because Elie was just a middling player in the AHL this season. And last season his AHL performance almost led to a demotion to the ECHL. But when you take a further look it’s not much of a surprise that the 6-foot-1, 209-pound winger can play a bottom-six (third or fourth line) role in the NHL.
Elie plays a simple game that relies heavily on forechecking. He can put up points, but his offensive numbers from his final year of the OHL are bit of an outlier since he played with Connor McDavid for half the season. In the AHL, Elie was asked to do more. He was called upon to fill a bigger role and be more of a scorer, and that’s not his forte. But with Dallas he can focus on the little things, play off other players, and chip in the occasional offensive chance.
“I think if he can get a little polish, work hard on that part of his game, he is the type guy that plays the style that we play,” Ruff said. “Which is a north-south speed game, get in behind and I think it was evident in those two games.”
It could be the springboard for a full-time NHL role next season for Elie. He’ll have to earn that opportunity, but the Stars will look considerably younger at forward in 2017-'18 and Elie’s versatility -- he can also play his off wing -- will make him a valuable asset if he continues to progress after his first two games.
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro