Blackhawks: Signing Kris Russell
The Blackhawks have remained silent over the last couple of days, to nobody's surprise, and the team seems to be preparing to fill out their bottom 6 and bottom 4. As I've mentioned many times in my previous free agent target articles, the Blackhawks need to focus on bringing in low risk contracts. One guy that catches my eye is former Oilers blueliner Kris Russell, who is often praised for his ability to block shots, adding to his case as one of the best veteran defensive defenseman available in free agency.
Russell, 35, spent the last 6 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. In his 17 year NHL career so far, Russell has 48 goals and 206 assists for 254 points through 912 games played. In this career of his, he has broken the record for most blocked shots ever, with 2044. Adding a guy like Kris Russell to the Blackhawks blueline would benefit the team as they bring in a guy with incredible leadership skills, and a guy with a crazy amount of experience. Putting a guy like Alex Vlasic with Russell, or even trying Seth Jones with him could help bolster the overall defensive play of the teams lackluster blueline.
Russell is not gonna command a lot of money on his next contract. Bringing him in on a 1 year deal worth around $1M AAV would be the perfect low risk, high reward contract for the team. Russell is a very trustworthy player, and although he does battle some injuries late in his career, he still plays his role really well as a bottom 4 pairing player. I would personally love bringing him in for a season or two as a mentor to the younger guys. The Hawks want to create a new atmosphere, and he would bring just the attitude to have the ship pointed in the right direction.