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Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Russell: Another Perspective

Fellow Oilersnation writer Jason Gregor wrote a piece on Kris Russell that really highlighted the positives behind Kris Russell’s play this season. As we’ve never seen eye to eye on the job Russell has done here as an Oiler, I thought it might be interesting to do a response piece. Sort of another perspective touching on the same topics that Jason hit on yesterday.

I think we can both agree that Russell has been better through the first half of 2017-2018 than he was last season. Even those who do not see Russell in such a positive light would have to agree on that. Last season was a disaster from beginning to end. This season has had its share of problems, but also a lot more positives.

Probably the *most* positive change to Russell’s game has been with his offence. Last year, through 68 games, Russell picked up just 13 points. This year, through 41 games, he already has 16 which puts him on pace to get near his career high of 32 points. Coming into today’s game, he’s tied with Darnell Nurse for the lead in 5v5 scoring (by Oiler defensemen) with 13 points when a year ago he was fourth with 12 points. In terms of scoring rate, that is going from 0.60 P/60 to 1.24 P/60 so we can objectively say he is TWICE the offensive producer that he was a year ago.

I don’t use plus/minus because it’s 2018, but in terms of 5v5 goals for and against Kris Russell is +1 or 50.9% depending on how you look at it. That ranks him fifth of nine Oiler defenders who have played at least 100 5v5 minutes. He also has a 52.54 Fenwick percentage (FF%) which ranks him sixth of nine Oiler defenders.

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As you all know, Kris Russell is also far and away the leader in blocked shots again this season with 121. Alec Martinez is in second place with 109 and he’s playing almost 24 minutes a night while Russell is averaging just 18:33 for the Oilers. Some people believe being on the ice for that many shots against is a good thing but I am not one of those people. I think it’s symptomatic of bigger problems – i.e. the other team always has the puck.

For example, his breakout passing is very poor and often lead to turnovers in the neutral zone. If zone exits are failed the puck comes back into the zone for extended periods of time. It’s a calling card of Kris Russell’s and has been for some time. The puck comes in, he backhands it around the boards to nobody in particular, the puck comes back, repeat as same. Do that enough times and someone tells Chiarelli that he’s the league leader in zone exits. We all have a chuckle.

I do happen to agree with Jason when he notes that Russell is doing better with fewer minutes this year compared to last. And Russell is a player who gives it his all. Considering how taxing it is to defend in your own zone and how much time he spends there, last season especially, he should be able to give more by dialling back that time. In fact, I wouldn’t be opposed to the suggestion that his offensive abilities were sacrificed last year due to his defensive limitations.

Feb 2, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Harry Zolnierczyk (26) skates with the puck as Edmonton Oilers defenseman Kris Russell (4) defends in front of Predators left wing Cody McLeod (55) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

One area of concern for me is still how Russell does away from standout players like McDavid or Nurse, and how those players do when they’re away from him. The coaching staff has played Nurse, Klefbom, and Larsson with McDavid more than Russell has this season. Still, the skew that 97 puts on Russell’s numbers is high. Without McDavid, Kris Russell has a 48.6% Corsi (ninth of nine defenders) and a 50.4% Fenwick (sixth of nine defenders).*

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The Nurse-Russell pairing was generally successful, especially early in their time together but the luster has come off a bit over time, as expected. They’ve settled into a place where the pair has a negative shot attempt percentage and goals for percentage relative to the team as per Corsica.Hockey. That’s -3.75 CF%Rel and -1.91 GF%Rel for the defensive pairing. Nurse himself has a 51.4% CF and a 55.5% FF with Russell, but a 57.1% CF and 57.2% FF without him. So it’s hard to imagine Nurse couldn’t be experiencing even more success with another partner.

Looking at WOWYS for Russell, 21 of 26 skaters who have played for the Oilers this season have better shot attempt metrics without Russell than he has without them. It’s a staggering reality that almost anyone who plays with Russell will see themselves spending less time in the offensive zone and more time in their own end.

As far as his disastrous contract goes, well that’s clearly a matter of opinion at this point. I see a team that still lists top 4 RHD as a need and the man holding that spot down on the roster (at least partially) isn’t playing on the PP, has had his minutes reduced from a year ago, isn’t likely to improve significantly, and isn’t actually right handed. Since Peter Chiarelli didn’t “go for it” improve the team in the offseason, we are seeing the effects of standing pat. It hasn’t been enjoyable.

With a full no movement clause in effect for another year after this one, and contracts kicking in for McDavid plus others needed for Nurse and other RFAs, it’s difficult to see a clear path to upgrading the blue line. We’ve avoided the pain of having the defenseman ranked 5th in TOI/G making $4M because the Oilers have loads of cap space today (almost $2 million for every point back in the standing!). Without that space starting next season, the luxury of avoiding the reality that $4M for a third pairing guy is too much money in a cap world won’t be available.

From the offensive blue line inward, Kris Russell is twice the player he was a year ago. That alone makes up ground on the train-wreck of a season he had a season ago. He tries real hard and his Dad’s a legit cowboy, so that’s cool, but I still see a third pairing player who is still contributing to keeping the team at the wrong end of the ice more than it should.

As for Jason’s final point, the Oiler blue line as a whole has indeed been carried through a difficult time, but I think the player responsible for the bulk of the heavy lifting has been Kris Russell…….’s partner, Darnell Nurse. Nurse is a leader in every major statistical category for the Oilers defense and everyone who has played significant time with him has better numbers for it, Russell included.

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*These numbers are all “Without McDavid” so when I say 9th of 9 I mean when all 9 players are away from McDavid.


  • Finnaggled

    really seems like you wrote an article, outlining all the positives about Russell, just like gregor did. the difference is you added a caveat.
    *but he sucks at breakout passes*
    well done. you found the flaw. show me one 4 mil defenceman that doesn’t have 3 flaws. and really “disastrous contract”…i believe disaster implies that horrendous things have happened…and a 4 mil 4-5 defenceman in this league with the cap where it is, is cumbersome at worst and average at best.
    don’t just write stories just to bash people. the man is playing well this year and earning his money.

    • Bp123

      With the speed on the NHL today, the transition game is more important than ever and that all starts with breakout passes. It’s a pretty big flaw to be one of the worst in the league at exiting the zone.

      He also outlined the other flaw singing Russell has, and that’s adding yet another LHD, giving him a NMC, and creating a logjam on the blueline. Now you have a group of Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse, and Russell who are much better playing the left side, and the odd-man out in that group has trade protection for no reason.

      Edmonton’s cap also isn’t the same as other teams. I don’t think people understand the impact that an extra 2-3 million can have when we’re about to be paying $21 million to two players. It can, and will, be the difference between signing and losing good young players.

      • BringitbacklikeSlats

        The odd man out in that group you point out also happens to be the only one who can also play the port side…which makes him way more valuable.
        While not a top pair guy, he’s also not a #6 on an average team, especially when you consider him playing his off hand side.
        This notion you and Matt make that he doesn’t make zone exit passes well doesn’t really hold water. Simply stating it doesn’t make it so.

        • Bp123

          But he’s not good at playing the right side. Why not try and find someone that actually fills that role instead of shoehorning Russell into it?

          I also simply can’t believe that anyone who trusts the “eye test” can’t see that Russell is poor at exiting the zone. Take note while watching how many of his exits end up on on the sticks of the opposing team, and how often he is on the ice when getting cycled.

          • BringitbacklikeSlats

            Quite clearly he is good at it. He’s outplayed both Klefbom and Larssen as well as Sekera since he’s been back (on his off side).
            Recognizing trouble and making a safe play is part of what makes a player a good player. Klefbom would be better for example if his danger recognition factor was as high

          • Dan 1919

            I think most agree he’s not perfect at it, but the bottom line is he’s not getting paid to be a perfect defender. $4mill is a pretty decent number for what he brings. And hate to burst your bubble, Larsen, Klefbom and Sekera are all playing far from perfect and often give the puck away or set it up to on their outlets.

          • jultz=2cups!??

            Are you being serious? What do you mean by “how often he is on the ice when getting cycled.” ?? Every ddfenceman in the league gets hemmed in their own zone once in awhile. It’s not always their fault. There’s 4 other guys on the ice. I’m gonna keep track of this new stat of yours for sure lol. Except I’ll be watching Russell and klefbom. Do some comparisons and see which one actually turns the puck over more exiting the zone. Banking it off the glass is not a give away in my eyes

          • jultz=2cups!??

            My comment was directed at bp123. I totally agree dan1919. Oilersnation gets tunnel vision when they want to blame losses on one dman and nobody else does any wrong. Justin Schultz prime example

  • Striker1

    Hmmm we’ll researched and fair article….let’s see what people on the internet have to say about it…should be a level headed and rational interchange…

  • Dubz337

    Dude here and on hockeybuzz I can’t remember one time I’ve ever seen you write a positive article. You just sh*t on the same people like you found them all pissing in your Cheerios at one point. Man I would hate to know you in real life and have to deal with that negativity all the time. Life’s not so bleak man. Putting together yet another article like this, finding embarrassing pictures of Russell to put in it, writing it after right after one of your fellow contributors wrote an article giving the guy some props, I’m sorry but you just sound biased and very petty.

    • Gravis82

      Saying good things about good players does nothing to make us better. Identifying areas of improvement will. Unfortunately identifying improvement area when it comes to hockey involves pointing out players not living up to their contract, or not being good enough.

      • Rusty Patenaude

        Are you delusional? Do you think some hockey writer wannabe on the internet’s 2-bits counts as constructive criticism to guide improvement. This is just fans venting spleens and nothing more. The opinions of Matt Henderson are uninformed and I curse myself every time I get sucked into reading one of his pieces.

      • btrain

        Not that you need to pump peoples tires all the time but saying good things about players can help. Do you think all the positive things said about Nurse this year doesn’t get back to him, that it doesn’t help his confidence?
        On the flip side, if a player struggles in a certain area don’t you think they already know That? So to point it out and constantly criticize their flaws while ignoring their strengths, how does that help the team? It appeases our need to vent and to dig into and understand issues but I would argue it does nothing for the team that they don’t already know. If anything it hinders a players confidence at a certain point, making them less useful to the team.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Pass.

    You have nothing to add to the analysis of this team that I want to read.

    Gregory and Brownlee are the only ones worth coming here for. The rest are on par with FlamesNation trolls.

      • Mc?

        Not at all, I am one of those that actually agrees with both sides, my comments have been more about how can one person ONLY see the Negative about a player, without at least acknowledging the Positives that Gregor has brought forward? When you look at both sides he has been a pretty decent #4 defenseman that can play both sides of the ice ( which might actually be worth more than a stop gap RHD making 3-3.5million ) Especially considering the injuries we have had this year.

      • Dubz337

        Lowetide writes hard truths sometimes, it’s all good. Gregor writes hard truths sometimes, it’s all good. Brownlee writes hard truths sometimes, it’s all good. Difference between them and you is that they aren’t a constant black hole of negativity that quite frankly is boring to read. Anyone not named McDavid on this team, I guarantee you’ve wrote a disparaging piece on them at some point in an article. Yea they f*ck up, yea they’re professionals getting paid millions and criticism is necessary but when that all you ever offer in your articles people tune you out dude

      • Corbs

        You are a terrible writer. Easily the worst on this site, and that says something because there are few awful ones. You have clearly never played hockey. Anyone that has actually played the game has an appreciation for Russell and what he does.

          • Dan 1919

            It’s actually legit. I’ve played sports my whole life and quit hockey very early, when I started playing again as an adult, it gives you a whole new dynamic to the game that you just can’t grasp without playing it. And as mentioned, even playing other sports doesn’t cover it. Mostly around the energy and playmaking side of the game, I’d honestly say my expectations of what players should and shouldn’t do became a lot more realistic rather than just watching TV and wanting them to light it up.

        • Marshall Law

          This is a dumb comment. Many GMs in other sports never played professionally and have success. Only in hockey do we get sucked into this “never played the game” delusion from, you guessed it, guys who never played the game.

      • Mc?

        Was Gregors not “factual” as well? I think the comments point more towards the constant negativity, when JUST maybe there is some POSITIVE this year in Russell

        • Marshall Law

          Gregor presents facts without needed context. Says that the Oiler D has been carried by Nurse AND Russell without showing Nurse’s WOWY numbers. It’s disingenuous. He also put Russell in the same sentence as Burns and Keith, suggesting that he’s just as important to his team as they are to theirs. You talk about seeing both sides, but Gregor acknowledges almost none of Russell’s weaknesses, of which there are many.

      • BringitbacklikeSlats

        “Factual”. Really. Spewing out your stats sheet and then making the non fact based statement that he can’t exit his own zone to back up your own skewed narrative. Is that what you consider “factual”?
        As for a disasterous signing… I’d consider you getting paid to write articles about a game you don’t watch and understand close to that. I’m sure there’s some buyers remorse somewhere. I know I wish I hadn’t bothered to read your tripe.

  • Cameron

    The worst thing that can happen to a blogger (aka wanna-be journalist) is that they become predictable, repetitive, and biased in their evaluations. This writer has become what is the worst fate for a hockey blogger who is trying desperately for relevance……he is boring. And like the Oiler management he is quick to criticize for stubbornly not changing their PP and PK…..he stubbornly continues his Russell agenda, ad nauseam. Your obsession has made your articles irrelevant.

    • Gravis82

      When you notice a glaring error in how everyone else around your favourite team assesses reality, and it’s a detriment to winning the Stanley Cup, it’s your duty to continue to say it as often as you possibly can.

      This is why there are not enough articles on why Russell is a detriment at his salary,contract and playing time. The fact that There are those that consider his play effective, is an indicator of widespread ineffective methods for assessing value in the oilers organization.

      For other examples proving this point, see standings. The list of moves made in the last two years is also helpful.

  • The Future Never Comes

    All I see is a bunch of numbers to look smart, Oiler’s had like the third best corsi at the beginning of year when they were playing like absolute garbage. There are way to many variables and outliers to solely base your argument on calculations. Math is good with a small dose for sports, but usually it should align with the eyes. Aka McDavid is a phenom and controls the play, I don’t need four different variations of Corsi to tell me so. Kris Russell blocks a lot of shots indicating he spends time in his zone, such as every other defensemen, one can conclude he has his angles right to block, positioning intact, and a big set of cohonas to take a NHL caliber slapshots without hesitation.

    • Bp123

      Choosing to dismiss something you don’t understand rather than learn what it means isn’t smart, it’s lazy. I’d get your eyes checked as well if saying “Russell is bad at exiting the zone” doesn’t “align with your eyes”.

      • The Future Never Comes

        Also, this year, not one defensemen other than maybe Nurse have been great at moving the puck out. Maybe the forwards are not getting in good enough position for outlet passes? Maybe the d-zone structure is not what it should be? Maybe there is not enough d zone picks being thrown to allow for more time?

        • Bp123

          Maybe the roster doesn’t have enough puck-moving defensemen? Sekera is decent to good at it, but it was an area of weakness to begin with when Chiarelli took over and his major D acquisitions are not strong at breaking out. There was absolutely no reason to spend that money on Russell instead of looking for someone who can actually solve the problem of moving the puck out.

  • jultz=2cups!??

    I honestly don’t think Russell is as bad at breakout passes as Matt and basically everyone thinks he is. Who decides what a “breakout pass” is? Does Matt consider it a breakout pass when rusty banks it safely off the glass and out of the zone? I know that’s not a great play for the analytics crowd but it’s a home run play in my hockey world when there’s no other play to make. I’m gonna count today, how many times rusty gives the puck away when making an actual “breakout pass”. I guarantee it’s fewer than all you guys think

      • BringitbacklikeSlats

        He’s often going into the corner on his backhand as he’s being asked by his coach to play his off side on the Blueline. Something asked of only Russell.
        So yes he like that backhand chip high off the glass as it converts nicely into relieving zone pressure.
        You guys that slag him think he should have time to get it on his forehand without the inherent riskiness of that. By doing so puts the puck on the net side of the boards and an easy snatch from a left winger on the attack. Not a good idea at that level (ie the highest level).
        So consider what is being asked of him. And then think about how your “favorite” Dman on the team…whether it’s Klefbom or Sekera or anyone else would fare going into the same situation again and again. Rusty isn’t fancy but he gets to puck because he can skate and the quickly processes dangerous situations and reacts with the safest scenario he can in that split second.
        What is your major malfunction that you can’t see that? It’s as obvious as a full moon to anyone that’s ever played the game. You guys that sit and judge and have no idea what it actually takes to compete out there need some degree of measure before chastising a player. The guy leads all D in points yet that’s apparently not good enough…all while playing on his wrong side. Jesus Christ give your head a shake

  • vetinari

    Good counterpoints Matt. I don’t agree with an assessment from a purely analytics standpoint but I don’t mind hearing a different perspective. Personally, I am okay with Russell’s current production and pay but can see that changing as his body takes a toll through his style of play. On a side note, it’s getting harder to read the comments section around here with the constant personal attacks. Be adults. Listen to perspectives that don’t always agree with your own because the world is full of people with different opinions. Go Oilers!

    • Mc?

      THIS EXACTLY is what Henderson should do, which is kind of the point of the comments being made on this write up, instead of seeing positives like Gregor points out he only sees the Negatives….. and continuously has to point them out, even tho I think most fans already know what they are. The argument is the other “tangibles” he does bring to a team, which gets overlooked by analytics

  • Abagofpucks

    I do agree that his term and the no move clause are not good , but this just makes chia look like a fool. As far as russell goes hes just a very small peice of the problem, there are a lot of bigger problems on this team.

  • Oil Is My Blood

    Matt. Rightly or wrongly, you can criticize Russell for his on-ice performance (I think you do it wrongly), but criticism of his contract is Chiarelli’s fault, NOT Russell’s

  • camdog

    So Matt’s joining the eye test crowd in respect to Russell’s break out pass… lol Sort of is funny how Matt’s going to the eye test and Gregor’s going to the analytics in their assessment of Russell.

    The facts are somewhere in the middle. Russell earned his money last year and he might be earning his money this season. I say might because I don’t know what’s going on in respect to penalty kill, I don’t think Russell is the problem. I really don’t like some of the forwards on the penalty kill.

    I’m still not convinced that 4 million for Russell is an over pay. I’ve never heard anybody complain about UFA money spent on Fayne, Pouliot or other far worse players that have worn copper n blue. As well I am not convinced that Sekera will live up to his billing for the remainder of his contract.

    One thing that is clear is that there will always be a segment of the Oilers bloggers/media/fan base that will develop a bitter anti this player and that player for any UFA that signs in Edmonton because UFA’s all get over paid.

    • Bp123

      Not really sure that holds any water given how much people are in agreement with Sekera’s UFA contract being a good decision. Russell’s was too much, for too long, and included trade protection it didn’t need to.

      One group will continue to be mad at Chiarelli for handing out bad contracts and hurting the team, and another group will continue to see that as a personal attack on guys like Russell and rush to their defense.

        • Bp123

          “Fans” is a diverse group. There will be people on either side of any argument for any player because that’s how large groups of people work.

          What I can say is that if you ask any one of the bloggers right now that is criticizing the Russell contract, they will tell you that Sekera was a worthwhile bet and his UFA contract would only be a hindrance because of the multiple poor contracts signed after it. Every team can afford to overpay a UFA, they can’t afford to overpay 3. If given the choice to terminate one of Sekera, Lucic, or Russell, I guarantee Sekera would come in last.

  • camdog

    The bitterness on UFA’s is already starting to creep in on some fans for Maroon and he’s not even UFA yet. The negativity that some people have for Oiler players is bad for the organization, the players can feel it and it’s not going away it get’s worse by the year.

  • Jason Gregor

    It seems you value shot metrics over actual production, which is fine, but shot metrics don’t lead to wins. Production does. He doesn’t give up more goals than he allows when on the ice. My concern with using shot metrics is it includes many shots that have little to no impact on the outcome of a game. Kings were shot metrics darlings the past few years and didn’t make playoffs. Same as Carolina.

    Oilers are this year and they are in 25th place. Kings are middle of pack in shot metrics, but 6th in the NHL. We’ve seen an evolution in evaluating and using shot metrics and GF/GA is much more important than shot metrics for and against. Many of the analytics people are stating this.

    And the thing about the metrics is it is easier to use them to advantage to make a case. For instance, saying Russell is 6th in FF%, but that is behind Auvitu and Gryba, neither of who are in lineup regularly, and never played any tough minutes. Of the six who will play the most, 77, 25, 6, 4, 2 and 83 Russell ranks third. I’d say that is a more accurate portrayal of where he ranks among D-men, since those are the ones who play.

    And, salary isn’t ideal, no question, but that isn’t Russell’s fault. He should have no blame for it. I don’t recall anyone ripping RNH for making $6 million the past two seasons when he produced 43 and 34 points.

    You will never like Russell, that is fine, we all have players we don’t like, but many analytics guys from Woodguy to Vollman tell me they need to evaluate multiple numbers and scenarios to see if the number is an accurate portrayal of what is happening on the ice. Sadly it takes a lot of time and then you have to take the number and watch the video to see it if matches.

    I do agree how the mention of his father as a cowboy should never have been mentioned by anyone about his character. No one wrote what Patrik Laine’s father’s occupation was when he scored an own goal against the Oilers last season.

    • Jason, you know as well as anyone else that while the 5v5 metrics are solid for the Oilers, the 4v5 metrics are as bad as you can expect. Especially at home. As you said, there is more to the game than 5v5. It’s a huge portion, but not everything.

      Can you tell me which analysts are saying that GF/GA are more relevant statistically than other shot metrics?

      • Jason Gregor

        The PK is a &**^& joke and the system is too complicated for the inexperienced forwards. They give up way too much and it is killing them. Every player on the Oilers who is on either special teams unit should be downgraded.

        PK is beyond horrible and the PP is 10.3% in last 20 games. It is killing team almost as much as PK.

        Pretty much any one I spoke with during Analytics week. They impact game the most. If you have 10 shots for and no goals…but have 5 shots for and two goals, your success rate or winning is higher.

    • Bp123

      If you trust in shot metrics, picking specific examples of teams with good shot metrics that lost doesn’t really impact the argument. The entire point is that, over a large enough sample size, teams that out shoot their opponents have a greater chance at winning, and in that sense shot metrics do indeed lead to wins. That doesn’t mean the team with more shots will win every game, or make the playoffs every year, but there is more than enough evidence to show that better teams will have better shot metrics.

      Any “ripping of Russell” stems from the defense of him. Criticism of his play-style or Chiarelli’s decision to sign him is largely met with those types of “cowboy” arguments which tends to derail things.

      Most people are frustrated that in a time where future cap space is valuable and the team already has problem contracts, Chiarelli decided to overpay a defender that:

      1. Wasn’t even offered a contract until late last year
      2. Is yet another LHD
      3. Performs best when used in a 5/6 role
      4. Is essentially the exact opposite of what was needed in a right handed puck mover
      5. Was given trade protection further limiting roster and trade options

      Most people I’ve seen are fine with Russell as a bottom pairing guy that can step up as a #4 if injuries hit. That player description is in no way worth 4×4 with a NMC. This isn’t a criticism of Russell, it’s a criticism of Chiarelli’s ability as a General Manager.

    • Gravis82

      He doesn’t give up more goals and he allows when he is on the ice true, but the shot metrics are not great. So the point is not that Russell is bad, and I made this in a comment yesterday on your article, the point is who would’ve been better in that place instead of Russell? If I had to choose, I would’ve chosen to sign someone else who doesn’t play in the defence of zone as much, and has similar goal metrics. we had to book on him after his one-year deal, And yet for some reason re-signed him. I don’t think Russell’s a detriment to the team in A massive was now that he’s on it and compared to others on the team, the detriment to the team is who resigned him. They were better decisions that could’ve been made, and the no trade clause was the dagger. if there was literally no other option out there at the time and we needed a left shot defenseman, then fine re-up Russell, but don’t give him a no trade clause. should’ve been a last resort signing . This article is not about Russell, it’s about Chiarelli

  • Christian Pagnani

    The Russell contract was poor the moment it was signed. That isn’t on Russell, but when there’s talk about the need for a RHD that can play on the power play and Nurse needing a new contract, then that contract looks even more foolish.

    Russell’s been better in lesser minutes, but I don’t think he’s been that great either. There’s a clear top three of Nurse/Klefbom/Larsson being used by McLellan, and Sekera will join them once he’s up to speed. Paying Russell $4m for three more years when the defence needs to be improved isn’t a good use of assets, and that’s when a lot of criticism of Chiarelli is directed.

    Assets/money should have been used on a RHD, and Russell should have only returned on a one or two-year deal max.

  • Ginbaby

    I think it is all well and good Henderson doesn’t see 4 as useful, but when I read yet another article to that point by the same person I just get this bored feeling when reading it. With so many things going wrong with this team surely we can move from one topic to another throughout the season. Instead it is another “Kris Russel is bad at hockey” contribution. Fact is, everyone not named McDavid needs to be a lot better and maybe if their advanced metrics aren’t supporting that, maybe those metrics are imperfect in their ability to demonstrate value.

  • Derian Hatcher

    I will go with the Connor McDavid statement – and I’m paraphrasing – that he would gladly go to war with kris Russell any day. Appreciate the efforts and research and opinions of bloggers and commenters but I will defer to someone who actually is one of the best in the world – over those who write and comment about the game and players. McDavid could have simply said that Russell plays hard blah blah. But he took his comment further. Good enough for me.

  • Oilman99

    The reality is, nobody has stepped up to knock Russell out of the lineup. He leaves everything he has on the ice every game, and every team needs guys like that.
    PS. It looks like Satuday brings out all the idiots, by number of ignorant comments made.

      • Mc?

        Who would have been a better signing that can fill RHD or LHD and move into the top 4 when needed? Considering the injuries we have seen on the D this year and potentially going forward

        • Bp123

          Jason Demers is a better player that only makes slightly more, and has less trade protection that was traded for a 3rd liner.

          Cody Franson signed for almost nothing late in free agency and is still a capable defenseman

          Alex Petrovic has been in the doghouse on a Florida team that has been making tons of questionable (at best) decisions. Could probably have been had for a very reasonable price.

          I’m still not convinced something couldn’t have been worked out with Vegas either. At the very least you offer Russell 2 years and wait. He wasn’t signed until very late last year for a reason, if someone else wants to swoop in and offer him 4×4 then let them make that mistake.

          • Mc?

            I agree on the Russell 2years. As for the guys mentioned, there might be a reason that NO NHL team wants to touch Franson other than if you look at his stats…. Demers makes more, and is a better RHD, but rarely kills penalties, and cannot cover LHD when needed. And maybe you take a chance on Petrovic, but usually there are reasons a team puts players in the doghouse. You have to believe that some of these decisions are based on who the coach/team trust in their corner for 82gp

          • Mc?

            Do not get me wrong, I in no way think Russell is the perfect answer. But because someone looks good on paper does not directly make them a good fit….. there are too many factors that go into one trade or signing that we don’t even see

          • Bp123

            For your comments below:

            Russell was signed around as late as Franson originally, maybe there was a reason why no NHL team wanted to touch him either? Demers makes 500k more, doesn’t need to cover LHD because we have an absolute logjam there, and the team that put Petrovic in the doghouse also gifted Vegas a top line for nothing. For the argument of penalty killing, given that ours is currently historically bad I don’t think you can use that as an argument for any player

          • Mc?

            Actually really good points about the PK, but what is our logjam at LHD? And yes they both signed last minute last year, but than after a year of seeing him play and battle for his team signed him, just saying there might be more to this stuff than 4million for a #5 LHD, statistically speaking. Also as bad as he was last year the team had 103pts, he is playing better this year than last, and we suk….. can we blame that on Russell in that context?

          • BringitbacklikeSlats

            So Petrovic has 4 points and Franson has 7. Demers has 13, so slightly closer to Russel’s production but still shy.
            So 2/3 of those hypothetical bets you’d make were definitely poor. Even with the clarity of hindsight mind you…yikes.
            And when Larssen went out of commission and you needed your three replacements to play top pairing minutes how would they have done?
            Because Russell played pretty well in that stretch. Just sayin’

  • Oiler Al

    Every player not named McDavid is playing above their grade on this team.On a contender Larson and Klefbom are not top pairing in as much that Russell is not top four.The teams standings show this.Beyond this, coaching and systems are wanting on this team.

  • crabman

    Henderson, you don’t need to write your own article just because someone writes a positive article about your whipping boy. It is getting really old. You are as bad as the commenters that can’t let Russell do anything right without using it as a shot at anylitics or the people that are all over the player for any mistake he makes. the whole debate is getting old.
    I don’t love the player and agree with a lot of what you say but come on man, contribute something else to the site other than Russell sucks articles. With Willis and Lowtide gone quality articles are becoming less frequent and it would be nice if there were more good articles from more than just Brownlee and Gregor. This is coming from someone who use to enjoy reading your stuff when you had a better variety of topics. We’re getting tired of the same old same old from you.

    • hockey1099

      Right? This site has gone down hill in the last few months. I didn’t agree with Willis often but at least he wrote well. Lowetide was a huge loss. After brownlee and Gregor the drop off is substantial. I hope the site can atract new contributors if not it may be the end.

  • Svart kaffe

    “Another perspective”? Sounds exactly like the same old perspective. Actually one of Henderson’s better articles with an attempt at nuance but it’s pointless because we’ve all heard it many many times before.

    You need to produce something new to stay relevant.

  • braddos

    Awesome … Henderson’s 88th I hate Russell article. Because he couldn’t take someone writing an article that positively reflects on the player. If you think Russell is the Oilers problem right now, you are as wacked as you seem. How about 2 years straight of articles about what Chiarelli is doing to this team. Instead of one of the teams hardest working players who is imperfect. Stick to Hockeybuzz more your pace.

  • ScottV

    He does a great job as an under sized d man, thru creative adjustments to be effective enough to earn an NHL living.

    The adjustments have strengths and weaknesses. I dont like the weakness side of it and think we would be much better off with another top 4 RHD who can really shoot.

    Example adjustment – he fronts net front threats rather the traditional boxing out of them. This is one of the reasons he blocks so many shots. But – its clearly playing the puck and not the man and requires puck luck. I would rather have a guy who boxes out, where not a lot of luck is required.

    Puck luck has a way of evading you at very bad times.