Robbie Russo

Could The Hawks Consider Another College Free Agent?

Last summer, the Blackhawks watched as a 2010 draft choice walked away without a contract as Kevin Hayes signed with the Rangers.

Could Chicago now look to add a body to their blue line depth by signing an unsigned pick from 2011?

Robbie Russo, who was born in suburban Westmont, was a fourth round pick of the Islanders in 2011 but isn’t getting a contract. He finished his fourth season at Notre Dame second on the Irish team behind Blackhawks prospect Vince Hinostroza with 41 points (15 goals 26 assists) in 40 games last season, and will be a free agent in August.

Russo, 22, is listed at 6-0 and 191 pounds and, perhaps most imporantly, is a right-handed shot. The Hawks traded away one former Notre Dame defenseman this summer in Stephen Johns, but could view Russo as competition for David Rundblad and, at worst, an option for the blue line in Rockford with minimal risk.

Chicago made a strong push for one college free agent defenseman this summer, but Mike Reilly (predictably) signed with Minnesota. GM Stan Bowman has added a number of college players recently, including Trevor van Riemsdyk and Kyle Baun.

Given the Hawks recent run of signing college free agents, Russo may be a name to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

19 thoughts on “Could The Hawks Consider Another College Free Agent?

  1. I follow Notre Dame hockey a bit and Russo would be Rockford bound if he did sign here. He needs work and even the I’m meh on the kid. We have a big problem on defense for now if we are saying Daley is on the 2nd pairing and TVR and Runblad are it for the 3rd pairing. I keep hearing that Pokka isn’t ready, plus he isn’t a desperately needed blueliner and stay at home type.

  2. Tab was reading my comments. hahaha I think it’s funny everybody had a hard on for Reilly and yet Russo had one fewer point and he’s an unknown. He would replenish his the right shot prospects we lost via trade

  3. For whatever reason the Islanders were never high on Russo. Since he was drafted they drafted a ton of D-men that almost automatically moved up the depth chart. Along with trading and then signing both Boychuk and Leddy. It seemed both player and team agreed early on they’d part ways.

    Who knows if the kid turns into anything. But he could just based off of his offensive production and it takes only money to obtain him.

  4. Rufus. Your act is getting real old. Don’t you ever get tired of being wrong? Maybe you should just follow another team? However, there is one silver lining to your negativity, namely, I’m now really optimistic on Daley based on your assessment of him!

    It’s amazing how this ritual of really negative evaluations of the Hawks happens after every Stanley Cup win! I guess that 3 Cups in 6 years just isn’t enough to give Stan and the Hawks the benefit of the doubt.

    Instead of listening to emotional and negative hawk fans rag on their team let’s listen to someone who has no vested interest in the team and see what his evaluation is, namely, Ken Campbell of the Hockey News. Here are a few excerpts and also the link at the bottom in case you want to read the full article.

    “Ask any executive what the biggest mistakes a GM can make are and fairly high on that list will be falling in love with one’s own players. And it’s an easy thing to do. You draft and develop a guy, you win with him and you forge a relationship based on mutual trust. It often makes it difficult to get rid of that same guy, even when the logic of doing so is staring you directly in the face.”

    “But he (Sharp) was also taking up $5.9 million in cap space in each of the next two seasons and was a declining asset. So Bowman dealt him to the Dallas Stars, getting a massive return in defenseman Trevor Daley and winger Ryan Garbutt. There are those who have declared the Stars the winner of the trade, but this corner begs to differ. Bowman made out like a bandit on this one. Not only did he manage to trim $2.7 million from the Blackhawks payroll with this deal, he got a defenseman in the trade who had as many goals as Sharp did last season.”

    “And the Saad trade was even more impressive from the standpoint of not allowing emotion to get in the way. You see, Brandon Saad was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft, Bowman’s second one as the Hawks GM. Unlike Sharp, Saad was actually one of Bowman’s guys, a player drafted and developed under his watch and one whose future as a power forward in the NHL has been well documented. But the Bowman came to the conclusion that he simply could not afford to keep Saad and the core of his team together. No dithering. No extended soap operas. No public mudslinging about outrageous demands. Just a clean break with a player who was one in which he must have taken enormous pride.”

    “Depending upon how Anisimov and Dano contribute, I’m not sure you couldn’t argue that the Blackhawks are actually a better team now than the one that won the Stanley Cup almost a month ago. Bowman has made them that way by being the best manager of the salary cap in the game.”

  5. Patrick, I actually agree with most of that assessment.

    BUT and it is a big BUT……These new players must adapt quickly. It took Richards the first half of the season and took Vermette until the second round of the playoffs to finally engage and be a meaningful part of the team. Qs system is superb but not the easiest to adapt. If our 5 or so new players don’t adapt quickly, the Hawks may be playing catch up in January.

    I will say this IMO. The team (less 29 but with 16) is as good as last year with the exception of bottom pair defense…..better in some respects. However, the is NOT as deep as last year. The talent in Rockford will not be as good. Particularly defense and goaltending. On the other hand, the Hawks are younger and faster with key core guys in their prime. It WILL be a fun season.

  6. PATRICK, Ken Campbell’s article is laughable. In his article he just happened not to have mentioned a player who was part of the trade: Stephen Johns. Anyone not familiar with the trade would think that the Blackhawks received two players for Sharp. I blogged this at the THN site the other day. It’s amazing that the guy writes for such an esteemed publication.

  7. @ Patrick

    Here I was all excited to read about this prospect and instead you post the one guy who thinks Stan made out great on the Sharp deal. There is always that one guy.

    For that deal, we will find out soon enough if it was a good trade. For me it boils down to 2 factors. Can Daley improve the PP and can he play in his own end. If he cant play defense the Hawks are indeed F’ed.

    As for Russo, it NEVER hurts to bring in low cost talent that has an upside. The fact that NYI isnt making this kid an offer is telling. Clubs have 50 contracts available and this guy isnt worth 1 of them so take that at face value.

    Johns was our 1st or 2nd best d prospect and is now Dallas 5th best take that for whatever its worth too.

    Just saying

  8. re: Rufus’ “We have a big problem on defense” – you’ve ignored Gustafsson all offseason because…? Pokka isn’t ready, and doesn’t need to be.

  9. I think we have to give bowman the benefit of the doubt because 3 cups in 6 years has been unbelievable. He’s made a lot of great moves to get those cups and drafted great players who fell in the draft.i.e saad and TT. Of course no gm can be perfect. For instance buff was traded and none of the players received back turned into anything as i recall. Personally given the situation i like the saad deal with the big risk being the health of AA. Could sharp Bickel and versteeg have been moved for lower draft picks to free up space to keep certain players? We don’t know. I would just add that Duncan Keith said garbut was very hard to play against. So maybe te hawks have something there that fans are overlooking. At this point I would hope they sign Kruger and try to move versteeg and Bickel. At least move versteeg for any pick they can get.

  10. Bowman singled out both Schmaltz and Gustafsson as two guys he was impressed with at prospect camp.

  11. Mining Man, just saw your update. Glad to hear it! Hopefully that first shower and nap in your bed feels good.

  12. About Rufus. He’s got his opinions and thats all fine. Hawks have won 3 in 6 and he’s probably the guy that thought the sky was falling and the world was going to end after the first two as well. It’s gotten to the point where its barely worth the read. Nobody, except him apparently enjoys the constant criticism of our favorite team.

    Now, go ahead and criticize if you want. It’s your prerogative and you’re entitled to do so. Some moves can be criticized. However, you can’t assume Stan screwed the Sharp trade up because he was asking too much. What’s reported isn’t necessarily always true. Perhaps Stan had no set rate and it was simply best offer wins. Maybe this was the best offer. Very few people know for sure. Unfortunately we aren’t in a position to say he screwed up by asking for too much. You make too many assumptions.

    As a fan I would rather enjoy all my team has done. We can’t criticize until after the season. Maybe Johns is utterly terrible and Sharp takes 2 more steps back. Maybe Daley, with a more sound defensive team looks better than Oduya in a warrior sweater. As of now, nobody knows.

  13. The Hawks have the rights to more college hockey players than any other NHL team. 13 to be exact. 3 of their top players played college Hockey; Toews, Kane, and Keith. Just as they lost K. Hayes (17-28-45) to the Rangers last year it would be nice if they could pick up a pro-ready player from college. The number two pick this year Eichel is still playing for Boston University. It interesting now that college players have the ability to pick who they can sign with if they play 4 years at college and wait the appropriate time. With the success the Hawks have had the last few years if they have an open spot I can see them being very desirable place to go to.

  14. Keith, jack eichel has signed an elc with buffalo and is thus no longer eligible to play college hockey, also pat kane played in the Ontario hockey league with the London knights and never played college hockey. Also the college guys who might be pro ready have already signed the next batch of top guys comes out next year. Most the players who will be available soon weren’t offered contracts by the teams who drafted them so that says something

  15. If guys are afraid they can’t crack the Hawks roster do you really want them in the organization? They’re not confident in their own ability, so that’s reason enough to go elsewhere. Good confident players usually want to play for the best team. Followed closely by their favorite team.

  16. The Hawks have the rights to more college hockey players than any other NHL team. 13 to be exact. 3 of their top players played college Hockey; Toews, Kane, and Keith.

    Kane didn’t play college hockey. Came right from the OHL.

  17. Chris and Albertahawksfan, Thanks for the correction on Kane. I looked the others up and relied on memory for Kane. Anyways it kind of changes the ball game if you can sign a college player another team drafted. I think SB was right for not wanting draft picks for Saad.

  18. Patrick, a massive return for sharp? Are you high? Daley has worst corsi numbers in NHL . Garbutt is a fourth line chippy forward, which means why sign dezy? I must prefer dezy, this trade shows bowman over played his hand on sharp at draft, and got stuck with little options, had to add johns to sweeten the deal for stars to jump. I know most of you think bowman walks on water, but this is a team built by Tallon, bowman is reason why hawks are in cap hell. He rewarded Bickell with his golden parachute contract, we will be stuck with that pylon and stuck with steeger too, hawks are getting older and cupboard is pretty bare in Rockford. Should and extended injury to Seabs or dunk hit team could spell disaster. Bowman has appeared to be slow to act, and stubborn on wrong players.

  19. Ernie, I have read Stan had two trade partners for sharp at draft, both offering first round picks, something we didn’t have. This would have given us a top player and gain 5.9 in cap space. At this point your right who knows what Stan was offered, but no one who covers the NHL thinks hawks got the better of this trade. So what do we know? Daley is not a top four defender, garbutt is not a top six forward, best case garbutt is fourth line grinder, think we have plenty of those. We know we can’t find anyone STUPID enough to take Bix and his 4m price tag , we know no one wants steeger either. We know Kruger is still not signed, and garbutt is not kruger, we know bickel , steeger will not have better seasons next year and will push younger, fast more skilled younger back to AHL , KHL . We know top line is set with Hoss and tazer. We know line two is set with kaner and anisimov. We know that leaves shaw, desjardin, Bix and steeger and garbutt. That leaves three spots, Teuvo , dano, panarin, tichkinov, Baun, morin, Hartman , McNeil all competing barring a trade of steeger, Bix, shaw or garbutt, not to mention, reports Stan wants krugs back. Panarin has out if he doesn’t make hawks roster he’s heading back to KHL, bonehead, I mean bowman, says he wasn’t signed to play in AHL, watching worlds he’s pretty special player, his nickname in KHL was baby Kane . I don’t see Teuvo , Dano or panarin in Rockford. McNeil and Morin, Baun and Hartman probably won’t see ice time at UC this year barring trade or injury. We know Q is not fond of Morin, doubtful he ever dons a sweater with hawks. Maybe Stan can include him with steeger or Bix for pics and cap relief, but if Columbus was willing to throw him in Saad deal, guess is he’s not sought after, steeger has bum wheel, and we’re gonna have to beg someone to take him and I’m pretty sure Bix has limited no trade clause, so another year in most cases with these two bums again. Would have liked to have seen Stan sign Matt Irwin , would been Huge upgrade over runblad and sold two way D man. He signed with Boston for under 1M per. Should be interesting training camp.

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