Defenceman Kris Russell is expected to play Saturday night when the Edmonton Oilers close out their pre-season against the Vancouver Canucks. Russell was signed Friday night to a one-year deal worth $3.1-million.
“I’ve been skating every day. Brent Sutter let me skate with the (Red Deer) Rebels,” says Russell, who is native of Carolina, Alberta.
Russell became a free agent on July 1 and has been waiting for a contract ever since.
“Stressful. I wanted to be on an organization right from the get-go at the start of camp. I didn’t want to be the guy coming in late.” he says.
“What we see in Kris is player who can really transport the puck, and he can retrieve pucks and make plays,” says Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli.
Chiarelli also addressed Friday’s trade of Nail Yakupov to the St. Louis Blues. “I could see that there wasn’t a fit,” Chiarelli explains. “He’s a young player who has a skill and talent. I didn’t think he was playing to this strengths. There are areas of his game that need to improve.”
“There are so many good qualities about Nail,” says head coach Todd McLellan. “His personality, one-on-one, he was tremendous with the coaching staff. He was a little more alone around his teammates.”
– Defenceman Brandon Davidson will miss the game with an illness. Kris Versteeg skated in a non-contact jersey. Drake Caggiula didn’t skate and remains day-to-day.
– Defenceman Eric Gryba wasn’t on the ice. Chiarelli says Gryba is exploring other options, though he remains on tryout contract with the Oilers.
– Chiarelli says defenceman Griffin Reinhart had a disappointing camp. “We had a hard discussion with him. He has to go down there (Bakersfield) and play better. We know that he can,” say Chiarelli.
– The Oilers and the Canucks are on 630 CHED Saturday with the Face-off Show at 5:30pm and the game starting at 7pm. (jrw)