It’s Sept. 1, so the unrestricted free agent pool is getting has been thin for some time now. But the No. 1 player still available could come off the market very soon.
Elliotte Friedman appeared on the NHL Network Wednesday night to touch on a number of topics, from Jacob Trouba and Johnny Gaudreau’s contract situation, to Blake Wheeler’s captaincy and more. He finished the segment by touching on Russell, who Friedman thinks could sign before the World Cup starts on Sept. 17.
“Kris Russell I hear has got some interest out there,” Friedman said. “And that he’s probably getting close to making a decision in the next few days. He’s a western guy. I think in a perfect world he would stay out west, but right now he’s kind of got to wait.
The 29-year-old Russell played 62 games last season with the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars, who acquired him in a trade. He’s also spent time with the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets and has played 573 games in the NHL.
Known as one of the best shot-blockers in the league, Russell is a stay-at-home defenceman who is valued by some but criticized by others. The analytics community especially is not a fan of Russell — last season he had a 44.84 CF% and a -4.75 RelCF%, which shows a negative impact on shot generation when he’s on the ice, versus when he’s off. Numbers according to corsica.hockey.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if maybe he wants to go back to Calgary,” Friedman continued. “Calgary’s got a really crowded blue line. And unless they can do something there with one of their existing contracts I’m not sure there’s room.
“But I think you’ll hear Russell signing probably within the next few days.”
Russell is coming off a two-year deal that paid him $2.6 million against the cap.
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