Russell traded in NHL draft and signed by the Montreal Canadiens

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    By JEFF BROMLEY

    Kootenay News Sports
    Jun 06 2007
    As the NHL’s June 1 deadline for teams to sign their 2005 draft selections approached, Kootenay Ice captain Ryan Russell was ready to accept his fate of going back into the draft after failing to come to terms with the New York Rangers, the team that selected Russell as their seventh round pick, 211th overall two years ago. As fate would have it Russell wasn’t going to hear his named called again in the NHL’s annual roll call, but he did see it on the TSN Ticker that night after he was traded and subsequently signed the Montreal Canadiens.
    “It was a little unexpected to get traded and not even play a pro game yet,” said Russell well into his off-season workout routine in Calgary. “I thought I was headed back into the draft just how things went with the negotiations with the Rangers. They didn’t have much room and pretty much had all their contracts written up. One minute I was headed back to the draft and it seemed like the next I was traded and signed by the Canadiens. It’s pretty unbelievable.”
    Scoring 30 goals and adding 46 assists despite missing 14 games with a broken hand and easily being Kootenay’s most dynamic player over the past two seasons, it was thought by many that a pro contract with the Rangers was a sure thing. It was clear following the club’s seven game elimination by the Calgary Hitmen from the 2007 WHL Playoffs however that wasn’t the case.
    “My agent and I talked to them earlier and it didn’t look like they were going to make an offer,” said Russell. “So we thought that I was headed back into the draft, but the week before the deadline Montreal had expressed some interest but we didn’t know for sure if there’d be anything do before the deadline.”
    There was even some reports out of New York that Russell was requesting, likely due to his offensive production in the WHL, more than what the Rangers were prepared to offer the seventh round draft pick. In the end it turned out to be something he’s always been dogged with since being drafted in the eleventh round of the 2002 Bantam Draft – his stature.
    “Actually I don’t even know what the Rangers offered,” said Russell, who the Canadiens generously list on their website at 5-foot-11. “It was an AHL-type contract, but they said that it was that they already had too many small, skilled guys already for the amount of contracts they had left to offer.”
    So with a pro contract in hand and likely a new set of wheels on his mind, Russell’s immediate future lies with his workout regimen all summer in Calgary. He’ll get to meet with the brass of his new club this week and this September will embark on an attempt to make the Habs or more likely their AHL affiliate in Hamilton. The other option is that Russell could return for his final year of junior hockey joining junior teammate Ben Maxwell, also a Montreal prospect, with the Kootenay Ice.
    “My main focus right now is that I’m old enough to play in the AHL,” he said. “So that’s what I’d like to push for and if I need another year of junior then that’s not a bad thing. Coming back to Kootenay, we’re going to have a good hockey team and all that means then is another year of development and a potential championship.”

    Quick Hits – Russell could also make the Habs’ ECHL affiliate, the Cincinnati Cyclones, but indications are that if he doesn’t make the AHL’s Bulldogs he could be back with the Ice… Dalyn Flatt, an overage defenseman also drafted by the Rangers in the third round of 2005 who graduated this year after spending time with Kootenay and Owen Sound as well as Brampton of the OHL, went unsigned and is now an unrestricted free agent… Defenseman Mike Busto was signed by the Rangers as an unrestricted free agent at the beginning of May.