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Oilers Extend Kris Russell Through 2021-22 Season

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Veteran defenceman will be expansion insurance for Oilers in 2021

Chicago Blackhawks v Edmonton Oilers - Game One Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Oilers have extended Kris Russell through the 2021-22 season for a tidy sum of 1.25MM.

He was fifth among Oiler defencemen in time on ice averaging 16:47 a game. Russell had nine points in 55 games played to go along with 101 blocks. A defensive defenceman who isn’t afraid to slide from time to time, he’s likely to see plenty of time on the third pair between now and the conclusion of his contract.

Russell’s signing helps satisfy one of the critical points of expansion. Namely, the “we have to expose at least one defenceman that fits the expansion rules” clause.

How?

The Oilers will protect either 11 players (7F-3D-1G) or 9 players (8F/D- 1G), but that’s immaterial for this exercise. By rule, the Oilers must expose at least 2 forwards and one defencemen that fit the expansion rules. Those rules:

  • player is under contract for the 2021-22 season
  • player has played 40 games in 2020-21 or a combination of 70 games between 2019-20 and 2020-21

If Oscar Klefbom is injured for the season, he will not fit the rules of exposure for the 40/70 rule. This rule states that a player must play in 40 games during the 2020-21 or a combination of 70 games over the 2019-20 season and the 2020-21 season. Right now, Oscar Klefbom is four short of that number. The Oilers will still need to protect Oscar Klefbom if they wish to keep him, but having Russell under contract will allow them to expose Russell and be in compliance**.

Goaltender rules are different, the club will protect Mikko Koskinen unless something ridiculous happens.

Kris Russell is in the final year of his four year contract. He would become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, but will help Edmonton satisfy expansion criteria by getting that extra year deal.

**Editor’s note: This entire exposure concept gave me a headache. Thanks to Dave and Jon for setting me straight.