Panthers Interested in Signing Kris Russell: Report

The Florida Panthers are interested in signing unrestricted free agent defenseman Kris Russell, according to Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel.

Russell, 29, split the 2015-16 season with the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars. The Flames dealt the defenseman to the Stars at the trade deadline in exchange for defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, forward Brett Pollock and a draft pick.

Kris Russell finished the season with 19 points and a 45.3 corsi-for percentage in 62 games played, a big drop off from his numbers in 2014-15 where he was able to set career-highs with 30 assists and 34 points. He did, however, raise his corsi-for percentage by two points this past season.

The Panthers have made a lot of changes to their blue line this offseason. They dealt Erik Gudbranson to the Canucks and signed Keith Yandle, Mark Pysyk and Russell’s former Dallas teammate Jason Demers. The club also extended 20-year-old Aaron Ekblad to the tune of eight years and $60 million.

What Russell Would Bring to the Panthers

While lacking in size at just 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Kris Russell makes up for it with his mobility and his ability to distribute the puck.

He’s an effective powerplay defenseman who could fit in well alongside the likes of other offensively gifted blueliners in Ekblad and Yandle.

The defenseman has quality leadership experience. He served as an alternate captain with the Flames for two seasons and captained the Medicine Hat Tigers for two seasons when he was playing in the Western Hockey League.

Russell does have a history of bad defense, and his corsi numbers have shown that over the years. He isn’t physically intimidating and he routinely struggles to play a responsible game in his own end.