Why the Kris Russell Trade May Not be as Bad as the Skeptics and Analytics Claim

A lot of skeptics, critics, and analytics experts claim that Dallas' trade for Kris Russell was terrible. Jim Nill gave up a lot, but perhaps Nill has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Fine, fine. Get on with it. Get on with all of the vitriol, thrown tacos, and accusations about whether or not I collect a paycheck from the Dallas Stars. Done? Cool.

What could I possibly say to convince the many skeptics that trading for Kris Russell for a 2nd that becomes a 1st if Dallas makes the Conference Finals, Brett Pollock, and Jyrki Jokipakka was in any way worth it despite every measurable statistic saying otherwise?

The reactions haven't been kind to Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars. Scott Cullen certainly doesn't like it. This database suggests it's bad. And if Jonathan Willis' look at his disproportionate amount of high danger area chances allowed is any indication, he would agree with the common skeptic sentiment. True, the numbers don't speak too highly of Russell. In fact, by all #fancystats accounts, Dallas basically replaced Jokipakka, who doesn't play, with a defensemen with worse stats who will, just to loose Brett Pollock and a 2nd/potential 1st round pick.

I know. Where's the part where I'm supposed to convince you after basically indicting the poor, newly minted Dallas Star defensemen? Well, I don't know, actually. But as Rob Vollman tweeted, Russell in sheltered minutes wasn't too bad:

No, he hasn't looked good in an increased role in Calgary, even when compared in a vacuum. But paradigms are like anything else in any field; constantly evolving. The player tracking website Sportlogiq has noted some favorable facets of Russell's game:

The obvious retort to this is that he carries it out a lot because he's in his own zone a lot. But if you believe, as many do, that Corsi is heavily influenced by coaching (how else to explain Matt Duchene at a 45 Percent Corsi rating except by Roy's indelicate hand?), then there should be at least a semblance of optimism.

Trevor Daley, who was an utter black hole possession wise for Dallas, has found himself quite useful for Pittsburgh, where the Daley Effect now has a positive connotation.

With Dallas' top four set for the current season, there's little reason to think that Kris Russell will suddenly slot into Johnny Oduya or Alex Goligoski's spot. The more likely scenario is that he spends minutes with either Jordie Benn, or any one of the rookies. And who knows, maybe even granular stiff like being able to successfully clear the zone on the PK pays dividends.

It's important to remember that with the trade deadline gone, Dallas' roster can expand assuming they haven't done the impossible and gone past the 50 player contract limit. Might Russell be a solid addition on the third pair to help ease the transition for someone like Stephen Johns? It's a move that would fully complete the left shot right shot symmetry of the blueline, as well.

Dallas certainly gave up more than could be reasonably asked for. But Brett Pollock wasn't going to replace any of the glut of centers Dallas has. Seguin, Dickinson, Janmark, and Faksa are the future. And Jokipakka was never going to rise above all of Stephen Johns, Julius Honka, Esa Lindell, Patrik Nemeth, and Jamie Oleksiak on the depth chart. Which leaves the 2nd rounder. At the rate Dallas is playing, fans can rest easy on any notions of the pick turning into a first.

But Jim Nill, who has a good overall record, has scouted enough to know who is worth keeping, and who is worth trading. Good scouting is not just about getting players to contribute for your team. It's about getting players that can contribute to the NHL. The subtle distinction is the difference between being a franchise other teams want to trade with, and one teams don't. Even with Nill's past robberies, clubs seem perfectly content to continue trading with Dallas, which isn't a bad place to be.