A pending unrestricted free agent for the second straight summer, Kris Russell is hopeful he won’t have go through last year’s experience again.
“Obviously I’d like to come back but there is a business side to this and you never know what’s going to happen,” he said over the weekend, per the Edmonton Journal. “(The Oilers) have to make decisions too, the brass here. But I’m an Oiler and I’m not going to look past that until I’m told otherwise or come July 1 maybe (if something else happens).
“I want to be here. I’m not worried about other teams, I want to be an Oiler.”
Russell, 30, had quite the interesting campaign. He caught on with the Oilers just days prior to the start of the regular season, which ended a difficult summer where the big contract many figured he’d sign never came to fruition.
Instead, Russell inked a one-year, $3.1 million pact with Edmonton.
His year was classically Kris Russell — doing all the things that put him smack in the middle of the “advanced analytics vs. old school hockey men” debate. He averaged over 21 minutes per night and blocked a ton of shots (213, to be exact), but struggled in possession metrics.
Either way, he was a big part of what Edmonton did this year, helping the club snap an 11-year playoff drought and getting to within one win of the Western Conference Final. He averaged over 22 minutes a night during the postseason, scoring four points in 14 games.
So, do the Oilers lock him up? Or do they let Matt Benning and Darnell Nurse step into bigger roles? At the very least, GM Peter Chiarelli can’t afford to overpay Russell. And it’s worth noting that Edmonton made a couple of nice picks in the 2015 draft, getting Caleb Jones (Seth’s brother) in the fourth round and Ethan Bear in the fifth.