Name: Robbie Russo
Born: Westmont, IL , 2/15/93
Height/Weight: 6’0” , 195 lbs.
Contract: RFA in 2017-18
Like our first graded Red Wing of 2016-17, Tomas Nosek, Robbie Russo was a late-season addition to Detroit’s lineup. Also like Nosek, Russo appeared in less than 20 regular-season games for the Wings.
The season-ending injury to Ryan Sproul allowed Russo to make his NHL debut against the Maple Leafs in early March. In the midst of an impressive sophomore season with the Grand Rapids Griffins (seven goals, 25 assists, 58 GP), Russo and his right-handed shot seemed a welcome addition to the Wings’ depleted defense.
But as we all know, making an immediate impact in the NHL is not guaranteed.
Russo didn't exactly generate the statistics or offensive production that fans and management would have liked, but he filled a vacant spot and got just shy of 20 regular-season games under his belt. He also got a little NHL power-play time to add to his resume as well, unfortunately for Russo it was time spent on a fairly emaciated special teams unit.
Of all the blue-liners who suited up for the Red Wings in 2016-17 only Brian Lashoff appeared in fewer games (five total) than Robbie Russo. Personally, I forgot Lashoff even played this season. Russo’s 19 NHL games played might be too small of a sample size to form a judgement on, but 19 games played is nearly a quarter of a season as well.
What He Did vs. Expectations:
There had been a fair amount of hype surrounding Robbie Russo since the Red Wings signed him after he was unable to come to terms with the team that drafted him in 2011, the New York Islanders. After posting a nearly 40 point season with the Griffins in 2015-16, Russo looked poised to be the next man up on defense for Detroit.
In all fairness to Russo, it didn’t look as if he wasn’t trying or competing hard, but he honestly just looked very vanilla, a happy vanilla, but still vanilla. As I stated earlier Russo only skated in 19 games, and like several issues that need to be resolved in Hockeytown he may require a little more time before he can make an impact.
Final Grade: C
Hopes and hype were high, points and games played were not for Robbie Russo. He filled a roster spot and gave a brief glimpse of what he can possibly do at the NHL level. With all due respect, he was average and not outstanding. There’s plenty of room and opportunity for Robbie Russo to make a name for himself, with or without the Red Wings.
Or perhaps the Islanders had a crystal ball back in 2011.
Next up in our series, Ryan Sproul.
What Grade Should Robbie Russo Receive?
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