Today it was announced that Grand Rapids Griffins’ very own Robbie Russo was named to the AHL All-Rookie team. The team is voted on by coaches, players and media from all 30 teams.
Russo to many outsiders is known for his spurning of the Islanders for the Red Wings. Russo showed that he was more than an old headline this year though with his stellar play in the AHL. His stat line includes 39 points on the year and +/- of 47 (yes, plus/minus is garbage but this REALLY sticks out).
“Russo is a solid puck mover who isn’t afraid to use his body. He’s a complete defenceman and a good leader. Not to mention that a right-handed shot for a defenseman is always a plus on this team. Hockey’s Future projects him as a “middle-pairing defenceman who can contribute to the attack and has some value on the powerplay”. I could see Russo filling a top 4 spot, acting as a big body opposite one of the smaller puck moving defenseman coming up through the system.”
Fun fact courtesy of the Griffins’ press release is the fact that this is only the third defenseman in franchise history to earn this distinction. The other two? Current teammate Ryan Sproul and Brendan Smith. Not terrible company by any means.
Other notable players who made the All-Rookie team include Mikko Rantanen and Frank Vatrano, two players that have seen significant time in the NHL. While there isn’t a clear pathway for Russo to make the NHL at the moment, continued strong play could force the issue. For now, the former Notre Dame star has work ahead of him as the Griffins are playoff bound and will need all the help they can get against some tough Western Conference opponents.