After being the topic of much speculation in the first few days of free agency, Kris Russell has been left out of rumors for the past few weeks. Today, we got the first bit of news in a while on him when Andy Strickland tweeted that “a few teams continue to eye Kris Russell” but need to move money in order to fit him in. Strickland doesn’t list any particular teams, but one can assume at least a handful would still have interest in the 29-year old.
It must seem like a long offseason so far for the former Dallas Stars’ blueliner as he continues to wait on a contract – early reports had him seeking at least $5MM a season, but it’s hard to see any team offering up that much at this point.
Russell looks like he might be the first real casualty of an league-wide turn towards analytics, as his best attribute – blocking shots – is being downplayed more and more as possession metrics come to the forefront of NHL analysis. Russell was once thought of as a promising young defender, but has fallen far out of that conversation.
Now, with teams moving to more mobile, positional back-ends, Russell finds himself one of the last men standing in free agency. The team that finally signs him might end up getting a deal at this point, since even if he’s not a top-four guy like many once thought he was, he is still a capable NHL defender who is young enough to contribute for the next few seasons.