Kris Russell. Four Years. Sixteen Million. Modified No Trade For Final 2 Years

So yesterday I wrote about my rather extreme distaste for the Jordan Eberle trade. I said some things that I usually say. I compared it to getting clobbered in the nuts with a frozen sledgehammer. To clear the air, I did not have a problem with trading the player, Jordan Eberle. The guy’s time was out in Edmonton, he clearly needed a change of scenery, and he just had one of the worst postseasons by a player that I’ve ever watch in my life. And even if he got better, his $6 million per year salary wasn’t going to benefit the Oilers in any way once Draisaitl and Connor collect their coin. Especially if this whisper is true:

That’s more than what Nuge and Ebs make, combined. Not saying that’s what he’ll make, and I’m definitely not saying that’ll be his cap hit because holy mackerel, but reality is that we must plan for Connor’s party to reign down on the Oilers with the fucking Hammer of Thor once 97 signs his next contract. And that involves calculated risks and heavy preparation, like the Eberle trade. Mo money, mo problems… except in this case Connor is never a problem so whatever, pay him anything IDGAF (Connor McDavid at $14M > No Connor McDavid, case closed). Just keep the man happy and win some damn hockey games.

So if you’re argument was that trading Jordan Eberle for a guy who scored seven more points in his last two seasons combined than Ebs had in what was coined the worst season of his professional hockey career was a good hockey move because it freed up $3.5 million in cap space, then by all means, argue away. In fact, I’d probably agree. I just showed you what Connor could potentially be making, so that’s actually an extremely valid point to make. I know that. You know that. The Pistol knows that. We all are well aware of the financial skud missile 97 has headed our way. Argue that it’s a good financial decision for the Oilers and I’ll always listen, regardless of whether or not we undervalued a player.

And who knows? Strome is an RFA after this season, so maybe he’ll struggle and make the status quo or even less in 2018-19, or maybe he’ll play well and we’ll deal his contract elsewhere. God knows paying him more money won’t solve any of our future problems either, especially given today’s circumstances, so those seem like the only two valid options. My point is, the move cleared up $3.5 million in salary cap room for our two offensive juggernauts to make their cash, so keep it that way.

This was my major concern about the trade:

It sucks for me to say because I really, truly like Kris Russell as a person. Great guy. Loves the game. Probably a nice locker room guy too. And he even has verbally admitted his shot-blocking is a very mislead stat because that means he legit never has the puck. Good for him for standing up and admitting that when there are still so many others who drool over that aspect of his game.

Now before everyone goes around shouting “analytics nerd!” or “watch the game!” here me out. I’m not an analytics guy. Not at all. I think there’s definitely justifiable value in what those stats tell you, same goes for the value that ANY other stats can bring, but I’m not an analytics guy. I don’t even know where to look for Corsi or Fenwick or whatever other advanced stats are out there, and when people show me them, I have literally no idea what they mean. And I REALLY hated the Mark Fayne deal. I just hate this deal too.

At the end of the day we’re still a playoff team. That’s obvious. And we’re still be blessed with watching Connor legit torment opposing teams. I just wish, with the generation piece we have in our arsenal, that the management would be wiling to push this team forward to the next step, not stay comfortably in the status quo. I don’t think that’s asking for too much. And it’s not so much Russell’s money I really care about, per se. It’s the term, and that should be fairly obvious. We were one win away from the WCF last season, so going into next with essentially the same roster isn’t the end of the world. No, this year is definitely not the issue. It’s next year. It’s the year after that. It’s the year after that too. In two years we’ll have Kris Russell, in all likelihood, playing probably-but-almost-certainly regular minutes on the bottom pair, and we’ll still have his $4 million cap hit with a modified no trade punching our face in the teeth.

“But it’s front end loaded!” They’ll say. “And the MNTC is in the final two years of the deal, so we can move him before that!” They’ll add.

So! Best case scenario, you bite the bullet for two years until a player like Ethan Bear has a chance to develop, then trade Kris Russell for a team willing to pay $6.5M over two years while carrying his $4M cap hit. Or, you trade Kris Russell after year 3 to a team from his personalized list that would be willing to take a 34-year-old defenseman and pay him $2.5M in salary with his $4M cap hit. Actually reasonable to think that may happen. But again, that team must be on his list, so let’s assume for a moment that’s a good team, and let’s also assume they might not require the services of Kris Russell.

Worst case scenario, you’ve handcuffed the finances you’re supposed to allocate for your 3/4 hole for four more years, and you still have to pay Connor a gazillion dollars, and Leon is going to make what Eberle made and more, and you’ve allowed Kris Russell to influence whether or not we can move his contract down the road, and you’ve now allocated $18M between four defensemen until 2021 — one of whom is a guaranteed 5/6.

But who the fuck even cares? For real. I just wrote like 900 words about how this all definitely sucks, and yet I find myself sitting here with this major inability to give a real shit. That’s because it’s draft day.

I fucking love draft day. For years, draft day was the only day we could cling to. That was our brief yet welcomed period of hope before Canadian Thanksgiving inevitably came and we’d be a miraculous 39 points out of a playoff spot. I love draft day almost as much as Stanley Hudson loves pretzel day. I love draft day because there are trades galore, and every time Bettman steps on his stool to announce one he gets booed to the moon and back. I love draft day because I know damn well that Calgary will draft either a kicker or a guy who cannot do a single chin-up. I love draft day because it’s the day we brought this beautiful human into my life:

Best day of my life, other than the day we took this guy… which also occurred on draft day:

So no more Russell talk from me. No more Eberle talk from me. I left my cards on the table. You can agree. You can disagree. I don’t care. It’s draft day baby, giddy up.