Kris Russell has interest from as many as eight different teams, but they may all be waiting to see what the Anaheim Ducks do with Cam Fowler.
Defenseman Kris Russell remains the most notable name still available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market. Ranked among the top-20 UFAs when the market opened on July 1, the 29-year-old Russell is still searching for a new NHL team.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Russell’s agent, Allain Roy, says he’s spoken with eight teams that have interest in his client. Roy expects the blueliner will have a new contract before the end of the World Cup of Hockey on October 1.
Seravalli speculates the delay in Russell landing a new deal could be due to a handful of teams still waiting to see what the Anaheim Ducks will do once they re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Hampus Lindholm. The Ducks have a very deep blueline, with youngsters Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour waiting in the wings. Once Lindholm is re-signed, it’s expected they could put another defenseman on the trade block.
Cam Fowler could be the likely trade candidate. Since June, the 24-year-old rearguard has figured prominently in the NHL trade rumor mill. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland looked into Fowler’s availability prior to the 2016 NHL draft in June.
Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray also inquired about Fowler in late-June. He and Holland could revisit their interest once the Ducks have Lindholm under contract. They won’t be the only ones. Teams in need of skilled transitional defensemen, such as Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs, could also get into the bidding.
If Fowler hits the trade block, the clubs that fail to land him could shift their attention to Russell. The shot-blocking specialist could also attempt to return to the Calgary Flames, who dealt him to the Dallas Stars at last season’s trade deadline. The Flames, however, must first re-sign restricted free agent Johnny Gaudreau, who’s in line for a significant raise after finishing among last season’s top-ten NHL scorers. Bringing back Russell means clearing some salary-cap space.
Seravalli suggests moving out veteran rearguard Dennis Wideman, who’s eligible next summer for UFA status. Doing so, however, could mean absorbing part of his $5.25-million cap hit. He’ll also have to waive his no-movement clause.
The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion “kicked tires” on Russell and former Boston Bruins defender Dennis Seidenberg this summer. The veteran blueliners are seeking contracts, however, while Dorion seems more keen on going the professional tryout route.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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