Let’s talk Robbie Russo! Russo was initially drafted by the New York Islanders way back in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He played four years at Notre Dame before signing an entry level contract with Detroit in 2015. In 2015/16 he played a full season with Grand Rapids and again played most of the season in the AHL this past year. He was called up to the Wings in early March to make his NHL debut against the Maple Leafs. He is a relatively difficult case to judge on statistics since his sample size is so small (he only played in 19 NHL games this year…) but let’s see what there is to see!
Russo played so few games that there isn’t even a Hero chart for him at OwnThePuck! He did have a fairly decent stint with Detroit from a statistical standpoint so it’s safe to assume he would have a mid-range chart. Again – it is very important to keep in mind how few games (and how little ice time) Russo had with the Wings.
(Stats courtesy of hockeydb.com)
Russo has zero NHL points so that’s all I’ve got here… just kidding! While he does have 0 points in his NHL career we can at least take a bit of a look at how he has performed at an AHL level with the Griffins. In his first year as a professional Russo had 39 points in 71 games. The vast majority of these points were assists which is pretty standard for a defenseman. This year in the AHL Russo was sitting at 32 points in 58 games which would put him on pace to outperform his rookie year by a good margin.
(Stats courtesy of puckalytics.com)
Russo had a CF% of 52.56 which is impressive. This was good enough for 2nd on the Wings. Once again he only played in 19 games. Even though this is a good sign the limited sample size is obviously a factor to keep in mind. Russo only had 272.67 time on ice so he was clearly only deployed in very specific circumstances. As we’ve seen before Blashill is very good at playing young players in optimal situations to maximize their chances of performing well.
(Stats courtesy of puckalytics.com)
Russo had the 16th GF60 on the Wings this year. As we’ve seen Russo didn’t produce any points for the Wings this year. This isn’t abnormal for a defenseman in his first 19 games in the NHL. He’s shown that he can produce a reasonable point total as a rookie in the AHL and improved on that pace this year. It is reasonable to assume that given more time in the big league he would bump up his production levels.
I think it is likely that Russo will see more time in the NHL next year. He performed reasonably well this year and I assume that even if he doesn’t start the year in Detroit he will be one of the first call ups from Grand Rapids if the defense gets into any injury trouble. There are many young mid-range defensemen in the Wings system right now so it will be interesting to see if Russo can hold on to that top call up spot. It is just as easy to imagine one of the others getting a chance and performing better than Russo in their opportunity.
Russo had a decent first 19 games in the NHL. He was played in controlled situations and avoided any major trouble. This isn’t bad news — but the truth is that the Wings have a surplus of half-decent young defencemen. Detroit desperately needs high end top-4 players. The last thing the team needs is more passable bottom 2 blueliners. I would prefer to see Joe Hicketts given an opportunity to perform in the NHL next year should a longer term opening occur. Russo would be a great option on an occasional basis for the team. He isn’t a bad player by any stretch — I just don’t know that he’s the player the Wings need right now.