Player Report Card - #4 Kris Russell
Over the next few weeks I will start my own player report cards, giving marks for each Oilers player that played in the 2019/2020 season, providing they have played in at least 5 games.
I'm going to do this in ascending jersey numbers so first up is.... Kris Russell
Hopefully this will be Kris Russell's last season with the Edmonton Oilers. The left shot defender has one more year on his contract at 4 million dollars and has been surpassed by a number of young, rising defensemen including Ethan Bear, Caleb Jones, Matt Benning, and I may even put William Lagesson in that category.
People have been ragging on Kris Russell for years in Edmonton and he became the poster boy for the analytics vs eye test crowd. The eye test crowd talked about how great Russell was for blocking as many shots as he did and what a battler he was, while the analytics crowd brought up a little thing called Corsi.
For those who still don't get Corsi, the simplest definition is it shows all shot attempts for versus against for a player. If a player has a CF% above 50% that means more often than not, the player is a positive impact on possession and generating chances, if it is below 50% than they are a negative impact.
Looking at his individual numbers, of all Oilers players who have logged at least 300 minutes of play at 5 on 5, Kris Russell has the lowest CF% at 43.45%. To make matters worse, he actively makes his teammates worse. Looking at the Oilers four most dynamic producers; Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, and Kailer Yamamoto, all four of them have worse numbers playing with Kris Russell than away from him.
The defenders of Kris Russell will quickly try to point out how effective he is on the penalty kill. Kris Russell averaged the third most time on the PK this season at 2:19 a game, one second less than Riley Sheahan and ten seconds less than Oscar Klefbom.
Let's take a closer look.
Kris Russell was injured between January 29th, and February 29th, missing a full month of the season. During that time, the Oilers had 41 powerplays against them and allowed only 4 goals against, good for a 90.24 PK%. Currently the best PK team in the league is the San Jose Sharks at 85.71% with Edmonton second at 84.41%. It might be biased to simply suggest that the Oilers are a better PK team without Kris Russell but at the very least it's easy to point out he is not some kind of saviour on the PK.
Right before the season was suspended we did see Kris Russell getting scratched in favour of Caleb Jones so the writing is already on the wall for where Russell stands in this lineup.
At 32 years old and producing the lowest level of offense he has in years, it's safe to say that Kris Russell didn't do nearly enough to warrant a roster spot next season.
FINAL RANK - F