Would Robbie Russo Be A Fit In Calgary?

The Calgary Flames have been collecting right-shooting players over the last several months. With the revelation that a highly-touted collegiate defender will be going to free agency, they may be targeting another.

The Flames have recently signed wingers Austin Carrol and Garnet Hathaway, and defenders Kenney Morrison and Jakub Nakladal. Now, there have been reports that another right-handed defender will soon be hitting the free agent market.

Russo will hit the free agent market fully on August 15, though it is entirely possible that some team – maybe Calgary – could toss a draft pick at the New York Islanders in order to get a deal done sooner, much like they did with Florida when they acquired Corban Knight. The Islanders would probably love to get something for Russo rather than lose him outright, so potentially a third round pick or maybe somebody from Calgary’s crowded forward prospect ranks could get it done.

To be honest, Russo hits the Flames’ targets in a big way. He’s right-handed. He’s just 22 (he’ll be 23 in February), so he’s incredibly young. He amassed 94 points in 142 games for Notre Dame, including scoring over a point-per-game in his senior year, a season after the Fighting Irish got thrown into the insanity that is Hockey East. Internationally, he captained the Team USA squad that won gold at the 2011 Under-18 World Championship.

Calgary most likely has at least some interest in Russo.

In terms of Russo, the question is how long the line is between him and an NHL spot. He’d likely need a year in Stockton to get adjusted to the professional game. Players likely to spend time in Stockton in 2015-16 include Tyler Wotherspoon, Keegan Kanzig, Patrick Sieloff, Kenney Morrison, Jakub Nakladal, Brett Kulak and Ryan Culkin. But it’s also likely that the Flames will utilize the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL more consistently than they used their ECHL club in previous years, as they own the team and can basically do what they want (subject to ECHL roster rules).

But if you’re Russo, do you look at Calgary’s defensive group and think you can’t make the NHL? Outside of Wotherspoon, it’s basically a crap-shoot. If I’m him, I like my chances.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      Nope, Gaudreau has played internationally in the ’13 WJC (won gold with Jon Gillies) and the ’14 WC. So far Russo’s only played internationally at the U18 WJC.

  • OKG

    IIRC this guy’s undersized for a Dman at around 5’11 / 190. Is he big enough an upgrade over Raphael Diaz to commit three years to in terms of 1 in 50 contracts?

    That seems about the same size as Jason Fram BTW, who we might commit a late round pick to.

    He does look pretty good though, 15 goals in the Hockey East is quite the accomplishment for any player, much less a defenseman.

  • RickT

    Moderately skeptical about going after someone that the team is choosing not to sign, vs. a college player who is choosing not to sign with a particular team.

    I wonder what is going on there.

  • RickT

    His stats are impressive and would become a top prospect as well as a top candidate as a 3rd paring guy. Unless we offer a one way deal unlikely he will sign here. He is an American kid who will have options closer to home….

  • The GREAT Walter White

    The Flames (IMHO) should avoid collecting MOR prospects that bottleneck the growth of the AHL team as well as the NHL team, and take up contract space.

    The team and d-core (again IMHO), is stacked with “stray dogs”.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      Agreed.
      Stray dogs are, more often than not… Hungry.

      I’m ok with that for the next year or two. Create some value out of the long shots, build up some trade bait/chips to stack at the table once the team has ripened a bit and we hit the free agent or trade market.

      Tough to say, but I’d almost rather have a stronger development system than a stronger talent pool, for the added value factor alone. Seems more sustainable that way.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Max Reinhart might fit the bill for Russo. The Flames need more blueline depth (any depth) organizationally speaking and they are bursting with centre depth. Seems like win/win to me.