Oilers sign defenceman Kris Russell to 4-year contract extension

The Edmonton Oilers will retain a veteran presence on their blue-line to start next season after signing Kris Russell to a four-year contract extension worth a reported $16 million US on Friday.

GM Peter Chiarelli enamoured with veteran NHLer’s poise, skating ability

The Oilers on Friday extended the contract of defenceman Kris Russell for four years and a reported $16 million US. He was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images/File)

Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli checked off one of his off-season priorities Friday, re-signing defenceman Kris Russell.

A deal with Russell became a strong possibility once Chiarelli cleared $3.5 million US in salary cap space with Thursday's trade of forward Jordan Eberle to the New York Islanders.

"I want to have Kris back," said Chiarelli of the 30-year-old Russell during his season-ending news conference in May. "I thought he was really good for our team the way he approaches the game, the way he battles, his poise, his skating."

Russell, who was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, had 13 points in 68 regular-season games and added four assists in 13 playoff contests while forming a solid pair on the blue-line with 22-year-old Matt Benning.

"I love playing [in Edmonton]," Russell said. "The guys in the room are great and I'm excited to get it done. It's a place I want to be."

Russell, who signed a one-year, $3.1 million US contract with Edmonton last October as an unrestricted free agent, will make $16 million over the next four seasons, according to reports. The deal is also said to include a modified no-trade clause in the final two years.

The Oilers are the fifth team in Russell's 10-year NHL career. A third-round pick by Columbus in 2005, he played five seasons for the Blue Jackets. Russell later had stints with St. Louis and Calgary, where he scored a career-best 34 points in 2014-15, before the Flames sent him to Dallas at the 2016 trade deadline.

The five-foot-10, 170-pound Russell, who hails from Caroline, Alta., has 30 goals and 181 points in 641 NHL regular-season games.

"He's a competitive guy," Oilers head coach Todd McLellan told reporters last October. "At his size, back in the day when he entered the league, if you didn't have a real strong drive and ability to play in some heavy, tough games, you weren't making it. He obviously made it and was able to be successful from that point on."

Edmonton's other pending UFAs include forwards David Desharnais, Matt Hendricks and Tyler Pitlick along with defencemen Eric Gryba and Andrew Ference.

With files from The Canadian Press


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