Except the people in charge of some NHL teams don't think he's bad at all. Since he was traded to the Calgary Flames in the summer of 2013, he's been playing the minutes of a top-four defenseman. Before this season, he signed a contract that pays him in excess of $3 million for the year.
So, clearly, somebody who knows about hockey thinks the idea that "he's bad and he stinks!" is maybe incorrect. And sometimes visualizing different sets of data can help explain why coaches and front offices value certain types of players more than the advanced stats internet community.
Or maybe not.
So, for what follows, keep in mind that Russell's started 9% of his 5v5 shifts in the OZ and 12% in the DZ.— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) January 4, 2017
On the left is where they allow shots when Russell is playing, on the right when he's not on the ice. pic.twitter.com/EAtzJCUTph— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) January 4, 2017
Edmonton is not a good defensive team overall. Regardless of which line/pairing combination is on the ice, they allow more chances from the slot (and the middle of the ice in general) than they should. Russell certainly doesn't help the defensive side of things, don't get me wrong, but it's not like he's a catastrophe in the defensive zone.Much more striking is the shots they generate, though: Left is with Russell, right is without. Unrecognizably different. pic.twitter.com/pEm1pmUMvN— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) January 4, 2017
But on the other side of the rink, he's a goddamn hurricane through a third world country. Without Russell, the Oilers generate shots from the points, and the circles, and right in front of the net. When you throw Russell into the mix, they basically stop shooting altogether. To call Russell a negative influence would be an incredible understatement.
If you want to take one positive, and you REALLY have to take this begrudgingly, it would be the "with Russell on offense" chart combined with this:
At least he's taking some shots, right?
(His on-ice Expected Goals For percentage, 44.4%, is even lower than his Corsi For percentage. Pencil me in on the Team Kris Russel Is Bad.)