Two days ago the Edmonton Oilers announced the signing of Patrick Russell to a one-year, $700,000 contract.
While the deal is fairly innocuous, where does he fit into the Oilers lineup next season?
His raw stats weren’t much to call home about. He played in 45 games and scored only five assists playing 11 minutes a night.
On the ice, he struggled quite a bit. He didn’t drive play with a 5v5 46.58 CF% and while his xGF% was among the best Oilers at 52.19, his actual goals rate of 31% was awful. A low PDO of 95.6 means there’s room for him to get better results with better on-ice shooting and save percentages, there’s a lot left to desire in his game.
Isolated impacts from Micah Blake McCurdy’s hockeyviz.com, however, paint a much different picture of Russell’s game. He provided offence at a two percent rate higher than league average and defence at a nine (!) percent rate better than league average.
With the trade deadline additions of Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanaiosu.
I struggle to find the in-between for all of this. Russell has been praised for being a hard-worker and a strong forechecker — a bring the lunchpail type of player — but the on-ice results don’t show that.
It’s important to note that last year was his rookie season, too. The three years prior were spent in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors scoring 84 points in 187 games. His final AHL year saw him put up an impressive 18 goals and 40 points in 51 games. In the NCAA he scored 66 points in 81 career games. There’s been offensive production in his past.
Russell is a fourth-line player at best, and I don’t really know if he’s going to play a lot next season for the Oilers. He may, at best, be a 13th forward for the Oilers and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him on waivers playing for the Bakersfield Condors again.
Now, there’s a chance he could come into camp and win a job outplaying some of the Oilers bottom-six options. His history of scoring shows he can be a productive player, but he doesn’t appear to have the skill set at the NHL level to be a producer.
Again, things can change and a solid offseason could help him be ready for next year. His status, too, will largely depend on who Ken Holland brings in this offseason to battle for roster spots.
On Twitter: @zjlaing