Kris Russell
Russell with the Calgary Flames in 2013
Born (1987-05-02) May 2, 1987 (age 37)
Caroline, Alberta, Canada
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Free Agent
Columbus Blue Jackets
St. Louis Blues
Calgary Flames
Dallas Stars
Edmonton Oilers
National team  Canada
NHL draft 67th overall, 2005
Columbus Blue Jackets
Playing career 2007–present

Kris Russell (born May 2, 1987) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman who is currently an unrestricted free agent. He most recently played for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was originally drafted in the third round, 67th overall, by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and played four seasons with the team before moving on to the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars. He has also played for TPS and Oulun Kärpät in the Finnish Liiga.

Russell was a top defenceman in junior hockey with the Western Hockey League (WHL)'s Medicine Hat Tigers. He was a member of two WHL championship teams, was twice named the WHL's top defenceman and won the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the WHL's most outstanding player in 2006–07. Internationally, Russell has represented Canada on several occasions: he was a member of two gold medal-winning teams at the World Junior Championship and has played in two World Championships. Russell is known for his ability and willingness to block shots, formerly having held the NHL record for blocked shots; he has since been surpassed by Mark Giordano. He and his twin brother Ryan briefly played together in Columbus.

Early life

Kris Russell was born May 2, 1987, in Red Deer, Alberta.[1] He has an identical twin brother, Ryan, born to mother Terri and father Doug.[2] They grew up in the nearby village of Caroline.[3] Doug was a professional bull fighter on Alberta's rodeo circuit – someone who protects bull riders while they escape the ring following their rides by distracting the bulls – and made four appearances at the Canadian Finals Rodeo, but left the sport when his sons were born.[2] Kris was coached by his father for much of his minor hockey career, and was moved to defence by Doug when he was ten years old.[3]

Playing career


The Medicine Hat Tigers selected Russell with their eighth round selection, 138th overall at the 2002 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft.[4] He played four seasons with the Tigers and the first time he played Ryan, who was a member of the Kootenay Ice, in a game, the brothers fought each other. Kris described the event as "fun" while noting that neither was trying to hurt their brother.[5] He was a member of league championship teams in his first season, 2003–04, and his last, 2006–07.[1] Russell was highly decorated in his junior career. He was named to a WHL All-Star Team three times and was twice named recipient of the Brad Hornung Trophy as the league's most sportsmanlike player.[6] He twice led the league in goal scoring and won the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as top defenceman in both 2005–06 and 2006–07. In his final WHL season, Russell was also named the winner of the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the WHL's most outstanding player and was named the Canadian Hockey League's Defenceman of the Year.[1]

Internationally, Russell twice represented Canada as a member of the national junior team. He first played at the 2006 World Junior Championship where he recorded one goal and three assists for the gold medal-winning Canadians.[7] Returning for the 2007 tournament, Russell tied Jonathan Toews for the team lead with four goals as Canada again won the gold medal.[8]

Professional career

Columbus and St. Louis

Russell as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008

The Columbus Blue Jackets selected Russell with their third round pick, 67th overall, at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.[1] Shorter and lighter than his peers throughout minor hockey, he was often told he was too small to play in the NHL. Listed at five feet, ten inches tall, Russell defied expectations and earned a spot with the Blue Jackets in his first professional season, 2007–08.[9] He made his NHL debut and scored his first point with an assist in a 4–0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on October 5, 2007.[1][10] Russell's first two NHL goals came on January 22, 2008, against goaltender Mike Smith, and was named the first star in a 4–2 win over the Dallas Stars.[11] He added eight assists to finish with 10 points in 67 games for Columbus.[12]

Russell spent the majority of the 2008–09 season with the Blue Jackets but also played 14 games with their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.[6] He had 21 points in 66 games with Columbus and added a goal and an assist in his first four NHL playoff games.[12] He led Blue Jackets' defencemen with seven goals in 2009–10 and set a career high with 23 points in 73 games in 2010–11.[1] He was briefly a teammate of his brother as the Blue Jackets acquired Ryan prior to the 2011–12 season.[13] However, Russell only played 12 games for Columbus that season, as he was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Nikita Nikitin in a November 11, 2011, trade.[6] The deal reunited Russell with Ken Hitchcock, who had previously coached him in Columbus before becoming the head coach of the Blues.[14]

In 55 games combined between Columbus and St. Louis, Russell scored 12 points and he made his second Stanley Cup playoff appearance by playing nine post-season games with St. Louis.[12] When the 2012–13 NHL season was delayed by a labour dispute, he signed with TPS in the Finnish SM-liiga. He suffered a slight tear to his Medial collateral ligament early in the season and missed some time before rejoining TPS.[15] He recorded 14 points in 15 games before returning to St. Louis when the NHL season finally began.[1] With the Blues, Russell recorded seven points in 33 games but dropped down the Blues' depth chart and did not appear in any 2013 playoff games for the team.[12]

A restricted free agent following the season, Blues management expressed doubt he would be one of the club's top seven defencemen. He was placed on waivers and went unclaimed.[16] The Calgary Flames acquired Russell on July 5, 2013, in exchange for a fifth round selection at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and signed him to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.[17]

Calgary Flames

Russell was leaned on heavily in his first year in Calgary, emerging as a top-four defensively-oriented defenseman. Paired most frequently with Dennis Wideman, the two formed the Flames' second pairing for the majority of the season. Russell set new career-highs in assists and points in 2013–14, tallying 22 and 29 in those respective categories. He also finished second on the team in blocked shots with 201, only behind Chris Butler (211).

As the Flames improved significantly in 2014–15, so did Russell. Once again, he posted new career-highs in assists and points, with 30 and 34, respectively, and he also led the NHL in blocked shots with 283. This mark currently sits as the NHL record for most shots blocked by a single player in a season. With star and captain Mark Giordano injured late in the season as the Flames pushed towards a playoff spot, Russell emerged as a temporary top-pairing defenseman in lieu, forming a dangerous shutdown tandem with Wideman once again. This continued into the 2015 playoffs, as Russell proved to be a clutch force throughout the Flames' six-game victory over the Vancouver Canucks in the first round. One notable moment came in Game 1 of the series, which the Flames had trailed until just past the mid-way mark of the third period; first, David Jones scored to tie the game, and then Russell fired a wrist shot from the point which beat Canucks goaltender Eddie Läck to put the Flames up by one goal with under 30 seconds remaining. Russell finished the post-season with seven points, third on the Flames.

The Flames regressed in 2015–16, as did Russell. His assist and point totals dramatically sank to just 11 and 15, as the Flames dropped in the standings and missed the 2016 playoffs. With this fate becoming evident, Flames general manager Brad Treliving sought to sell some of his assets at the trade deadline. With his contract expiring at the end of the year, Russell was traded to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, prospect Brett Pollock and a conditional second-round pick (ultimately used to select Dillon Dubé).[18]

Dallas and Edmonton

In Dallas, Russell was relied on to play top-pairing minutes, but the team fizzled out in the second round to the St. Louis Blues. Russell was held goalless throughout the playoffs, and he was not re-signed by the Stars in the off-season.

On October 7, 2016, with the Edmonton Oilers having cleared cap space in the trade of Nail Yakupov, Russell belatedly signed as a free agent to a one-year, $3.1 million contract for the 2016–17 season.[19] Used in a very defensively-minded role, Russell enjoyed limited offensive success but slotted in as the team's de facto fourth defenseman alongside fellow veteran Andrej Sekera. Much like the Flames in 2015, the Oilers made the playoffs in 2016–17 season for the first time in years, but lost in the second round to the Anaheim Ducks, and for the second year in a row, Russell was held goalless in the playoffs.

Encouraged by his play, the Oilers announced on June 23, 2017, they had re-signed Russell to a four-year contract worth $4 million per season.[20] During a game against the Vegas Golden Knights in November 2021, Russell became the NHL's all-time leader in shots blocked with 1,999.[21]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2003–04 Medicine Hat Tigers WHL 55 4 15 19 30 20 3 2 5 4
2004–05 Medicine Hat Tigers WHL 72 26 35 61 37 10 2 1 3 4
2005–06 Medicine Hat Tigers WHL 55 14 33 47 18 13 4 8 12 11
2006–07 Medicine Hat Tigers WHL 59 32 37 69 56 23 4 15 19 24
2007–08 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 67 2 8 10 14
2008–09 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 66 2 19 21 28 4 1 1 2 2
2009–10 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 70 7 15 22 32
2010–11 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 73 5 18 23 37
2011–12 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 12 2 1 3 13
2011–12 St. Louis Blues NHL 43 4 5 9 12 9 0 3 3 5
2012–13 TPS SM-l 15 2 12 14 8
2012–13 St. Louis Blues NHL 33 1 6 7 9
2013–14 Calgary Flames NHL 68 7 22 29 15
2014–15 Calgary Flames NHL 79 4 30 34 17 11 2 5 7 7
2015–16 Calgary Flames NHL 51 4 11 15 8
2015–16 Dallas Stars NHL 11 0 4 4 2 12 0 4 4 4
2016–17 Edmonton Oilers NHL 68 1 12 13 23 13 0 4 4 4
2017–18 Edmonton Oilers NHL 78 4 17 21 8
2018–19 Edmonton Oilers NHL 72 3 13 16 27
2019–20 Edmonton Oilers NHL 55 0 9 9 14 4 0 0 0 2
2020–21 Edmonton Oilers NHL 35 0 9 9 8 1 0 0 0 0
2021–22 Edmonton Oilers NHL 31 2 7 9 4 6 0 0 0 0
NHL totals 912 48 206 254 271 60 3 17 20 24


Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2004 Canada Pacific U17 2nd place, silver medalist(s) 6 1 4 5 0
2004 Canada U18 1st place, gold medalist(s) 5 0 1 1 2
2006 Canada WJC 1st place, gold medalist(s) 6 1 3 4 4
2007 Canada WJC 1st place, gold medalist(s) 6 4 2 6 0
2010 Canada WC 7th 7 1 3 4 2
2012 Canada WC 5th 4 0 3 3 2
Junior totals 23 6 10 16 6
Senior totals 11 1 6 7 4

Awards and honours

Medal record
Representing Canada Canada
Men's ice hockey
World Junior Championships
Gold medal – first place 2006 Canada
Gold medal – first place 2007 Sweden
Award Year Ref.
WHL East Second All-Star Team 2004–05 [6]
Brad Hornung Trophy
WHL most sportsmanlike player
WHL East First All-Star Team 2005–06
Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy
WHL defenceman of the year
CHL Sportsman of the Year 2005–06 [6]
Four Broncos Memorial Trophy
WHL player of the year
2006–07 [25]
CHL Defenceman of the Year 2006–07 [6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Hanlon, Peter; Kelso, Sean; Thomas, Rob, eds. (2013). 2013–14 Calgary Flames Media Guide. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. pp. 93–94.
  2. ^ a b Jones, Terry (2013-05-13). "No bull with Caroline's Russell". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  3. ^ a b Arace, Michael (2007-09-25). "Jackets uncover rare talent in Russell". Columbus Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  4. ^ Flett, Cory; Watts, Jesse, eds. (2008). 2009–09 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 81.
  5. ^ Koshan, Terry (Spring 2006). "Sibling Rivalry". Prospects Hockey: 19. ISSN 1703-7182.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Kris Russell Biography". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  7. ^ "2006 – Vancouver, Canada". The Sports Network. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  8. ^ "2007 – Leksand, Sweden". The Sports Network. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  9. ^ Portzline, Aaron (2007-10-02). "Rookies Russell, Bolls trump doubters, odds: Infusion of youth on team wasn't expected". Columbus Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  10. ^ "Nash, Jackets take advantage of disorganized Ducks". ESPN. 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  11. ^ "Rookie Russell nets first two NHL goals as Jackets rally to stop Stars". ESPN. 2008-01-22. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  12. ^ a b c d "Kris Russell player card". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  13. ^ "Blue Jackets add another Russell". Associated Press. 2011-07-07. Archived from the original on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  14. ^ "Blues acquire D Russell from Columbus". Associated Press. 2011-11-11. Archived from the original on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  15. ^ Halford, Mike (2012-10-17). "Blues' Russell returns to Finland after injury rehab". NBC Sports. Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  16. ^ Odland, Kristen (2013-11-07). "Russel integral part of Flames' defence". Calgary Herald. p. F3.
  17. ^ "Flames acquire Kris Russell, sign goalie Karri Ramo". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2015-01-29.
  18. ^ "Flames deal Kris Russell to Stars". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-02-29.
  19. ^ "Oilers sign D Russell to one-year contract". The Sports Network. 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  20. ^ "Oilers sign Kris Russell to a four-year contract". 23 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Oilers' Kris Russell breaks record for most blocked shots". Sportsnet. November 27, 2021. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  22. ^ Watts, Jesse (ed.). 2013–14 Western Hockey League Official Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 266.
  23. ^ Watts, Jesse (ed.). 2013–14 Western Hockey League Official Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 261.
  24. ^ Watts, Jesse (ed.). 2013–14 Western Hockey League Official Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 267.
  25. ^ Watts, Jesse (ed.). 2013–14 Western Hockey League Official Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 265.

Awards and achievements Preceded byKeith Yandle Winner of the CHL Defenceman of the Year 2007 Succeeded byKarl Alzner Preceded byJeff Carter Winner of the CHL Sportsman of the Year 2006 Succeeded byDavid Desharnais Preceded byDion Phaneuf Winner of the WHL Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy 2006, 2007 Succeeded byKarl Alzner Preceded byNigel Dawes Winner of the WHL Brad Hornung Trophy 2005, 2006 Succeeded byAaron Gagnon Preceded byJustin Pogge Winner of the WHL Four Broncos Memorial Trophy 2007 Succeeded byKarl Alzner