While there are certainly a variety of opinions when it comes to just how good defenseman Kris Russell is, or more specifically just how much he is worth, it's still surprising to see him unsigned this deep in to free agency.
It's still not clear when Russell can be expected to sign a new deal, but comments reported earlier today from TSN insider Darren Dreger may provide an interesting clue as to where Russell may land next season. Dreger reported that Russell was waiting for teams, presumably the teams he would like to sign with, to clear money against the cap in order to fit him in.
While this doesn't paint a clear picture of where Russell will end up, it does allow us to narrow the field a little.
We can almost certainly rule out the teams that are currently over the salary cap, the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. We can likely rule out the teams that have more than enough cap space to sign Russell already, teams with over $8 million in cap space include the Edmonton Oilers, Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes.
That leaves us with a number of teams who currently have under $2 million in available cap space, the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers, Sane Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens. While some of these teams have been linked to the Russell rumors, most notably the Leafs, we feel they are less likely to be candidates due to their already limited flexibility.
The teams in the middle, and the teams we feel are most likely to be candidates based solely on salary space are in order of least salary space to highest: the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Islanders, St. Louis blues, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets.
Russell's wait could suggest he is holding out for a team that has a chance to contend, which would further narrow this list.