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25 Under 25: #12 Robbie Russo

Toronto Maple Leafs v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Vitals

Position: Defense

Shoots: Right

Born: February 15, 1993 (24 years old)

Birthplace: Westmont, IL USA

Height/Weight: 6’0” , 195 lbs.

Drafted: 2011 NYI, 4th rd, 4th pk (95th overall)

2016-17 Stats

NHL

GP: 19; G: 0; A: 0; 5v5 CF%: 51.44; 5v5 CF% Rel: +4.66

AHL

7G (34th); 32 P (25th); 5v5 GF% 59.3

Numbers in parentheses indicate AHL rank among defensemen

Contract

His entry level contract expired at the end of the 2016-17 season, with him as an RFA. He is currently not signed.

Strengths

He’s shown promise on the AHL level, with a 39 point campaign in 2015-16. Last year, he scored a the same 0.55 PPG level, although in 13 fewer games. That was because he spent some time with Detroit at the end of the year, after an injury to Ryan Sproul opened up a spot for him.

Even though the 19 games are a small sample size, he was able to put up a positive 5v5 CF%.

Weaknesses

In the NHL time he had last season, he didn’t do much to move the needle. The hope was that he could bring some offense from the blueline. He scored zero points, but he also didn’t do as much as you would have hoped in other regards. The team had more 5v5 Shots for when he was on the ice than when he wasn’t playing, but the team had fewer 5v5 goals for when he was on the ice than when he wasn’t playing.

To put it plainly, even though he didn’t have too long of a window to show himself, someone like Nick Jensen showed more promise at the NHL level than Russo did.

Looking Forward

While Robbie Russo may still get another chance to prove himself, he didn’t seize the opportunity he had last year in the way the team would have liked him to. With other defensemen coming up behind him, if he doesn’t prove that he belongs on the team, he’s going to get passed by.

I would love to be proven wrong, but I don’t see him as more than a fringe NHLer at this point. His AHL stats gave reason for hope, but at least so far, they haven’t translated to the NHL. Maybe he’ll make the leap this season, but I’m not holding my breath.