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Photo Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

LAING: Kris Russell evermore expendable after Caleb Jones signing

By locking up @Caleb Jones on Wednesday, it’s time for the Edmonton Oilers to get serious about trading Kris Russell.

Russell has only one year left on his deal paying him $4-million. This season, he has a modified no-trade clause with 10-teams on the list, while next year it climbs to 15.

Russell’s time with the Edmonton Oilers should be nearing the end and the signing of Jones might be the bell that rings him out of town.

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The truth of the matter is that Jones should be playing the minutes Russell is playing: 1) because he is younger and much more cost effective, 2) because he can fill the role of a third-pairing defenceman just fine, and 3) because Russell’s cap hit can be better utilized in other areas of the roster.

Jones’ new two-year, $850,000 deal is a far cry from Russell’s $4-million.

Over the last three years, I took a look at all of the defencemen that have played for the Edmonton Oilers at 5v5 and broke it down by guys who’ve played over 500 minutes leaving eight players.

Russell and Jones are very similar in many of the most important defensive ranks.

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CA/60 GA/60 xGA/60 HDGA/60 PDO
Jones (584:55 TOI) 56.73 (2nd) 3.49 (8th) 2.3 (1st) 1.33 (2nd) 100.2 (2nd highest)
Russell (3233:42 TOI) 59.26 (7th) 2.3 (2nd) 2.33 (3rd) 1.35 (3rd) 96.7 (7th)

Stats via Natural Stat Trick.

First off it is, as always, important to note in these types of comparisons that sample size is key. Jones has played over 2500 minutes less than that of Russell in these comparisons.

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But what we can see is that Jones has done a better job in limiting shot attempts on the Oilers net, while Russell has done a very good job in limiting goals scored against the club while on the ice. I included expected goals against, too, as for Jones it shows he’s doing really well against quality shooters.

With a low PDO of 96.7, Jones is bound to see improvements in his statistics moving forward and I’m confident that he will be able to grow his game rapidly.

Russell is a fine third-pairing defenceman who can still contribute some meaningful minutes. But with Jones knocking at the door as an NHL regular, there’s no point in further blocking his progression.

And at a $4-million cap hit, the money owed to Russell could be much better utilized in other facets of the Oilers roster and the team could have a few options to do so.

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The team could look to trade Russell for a/some draft pick/s. That way you aren’t accruing anything on the cap and you open up $4-million that the team could use however they want.

This, to me, is the most likely option for the Oilers, however, they might be able to build a trade that sees Edmonton bring in a player of value to the team. It’s hard to speculate on who it could be without being the one operating the negotiations, but Edmonton is due to win a trade sooner than later.

Buying out Russell isn’t an option. If the Oilers were to embark on that route, according to Puckpedia, they’d eat $3-million against the cap in 2020-21 and another $500,000 in 2021-22.

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It’s time for Ken Holland to find a new home for Russell ahead of next season.

On Twitter: @zjlaing