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.