Kris Russell, who was acquired for a fifth round pick back in the off-season, is getting a raise. His current contract is a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. This extension will see him remain a Flame for another two years, with an average annual value of $2.6 million.
It's a great deal for the 26-year-old, who has emerged as a key cog on the Flames' blueline. Russell quickly established himself as a top four defenceman on the club, and is close to having a career year. He has four goals and 20 points in 44 games this year; his career highs are seven goals and 23 points.
Russell has been an outstanding find for the rebuilding team. He's young, he's talented, he presumably wants to be here (he did grow up a Flames fan), and his contract is perfect: short and cheap. There's virtually no downside to retaining him.
Listed at 5'10" and 173 lbs., he's the Flames' smallest defenceman. That hasn't been a problem, though. In addition to his point totals - tied for second on the team for defencemen - he's the only regular Flames dman other than Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie to have a positive CF% rel, meaning relative to the rest of the team, when he's on the ice, more shots are being directed towards the opposition's net, and not his own.
He even scores high on the #gritchart, which is probably important to Burke. Russell is ninth in the NHL in blocked shots with 123, which is also the most blocked shots for anybody who has played fewer than 50 games.
To sum it up, Kris Russell is awesome and this contract is awesome.