The Edmonton Oilers have reportedly extended defenceman Kris Russell for one more season though 2021-22. His current deal would have expired after 2020-21, but the team has chosen to keep the veteran around as the Seattle expansion draft approaches. TSN’s Jason Gregor reported the news Wednesday afternoon.
Oilers have signed Kris Russell to a one-year extension. I'm hearing it is between $1m-$1.5m and no NMC. Makes sense for both sides. Ensure Oilers have a Dman eligible to be exposed in expansion draft and Russell knows he is either in EDM or SEA.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) October 21, 2020
Oilers Extend Kris Russell
Russell continues to fade as a regular defensive option. His scoring dropped for a third consecutive season to just nine assists in 55 games. His per-game rate of 0.16 also reflects that Russell just didn’t produce as much even when accounting for injuries and the shortened season. The 33-year-old hasn’t been a reliable possession player either. His Corsi For fell again from 45.2 percent in 2018-19 to 43.2 percent last year. There’s really nothing he does well at this point but he is a regular on the penalty-killing unit.
The Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Russell in the third round of the 2005 Draft. He debuted in 2007-08 with two goals and 10 points in 67 games. Russell’s best offensive stretch came in 2013-14 and 2014-15 with the Calgary Flames. He scored a combined 11 goals and 63 points in 147 games. Those are the only two seasons in which his scoring rate ticked up above the 0.40 point-per-game mark. Overall, he has 46 goals and 236 points in 846 regular season games.
What This Means for the Future
Russell should be nothing more than a bottom-pairing or seventh defender in 2020-21. He can’t control the puck very well and his game continues to decline in almost every way. He will get cheaper after the final year of his current deal which might make him an attractive veteran in the Seattle draft. The fact that the team can expose him without losing value is really the only reason this extension is happening at all. Edmonton doesn’t have the best group of defensive prospects but they’ll be able to hold on to most of them now that they can sacrifice the veteran.