The Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to terms with defensemen Kris Russell and Anders Eriksson, club General Manager/Head Coach Doug MacLean announced today. Russellâ€™s deal is a standard entry level contract, while Erikssonâ€™s agreement is a one-year deal. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.
Russell, 19, was Columbus' third pick, 67th overall, in the 2005 Entry Draft. In 2005-06, he registered 14 goals and 33 assists for 47 points with 18 penalty minutes and a +8 plus/minus rating in 55 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League. He added 4-8-12 and 11 penalty minutes in 13 playoff games.
Russell was named the Canadian Hockey League's Sportsman of the Year, won the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as the WHL's Defenseman of the Year Award and captured his second consecutive WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player Award this past season. He also played for Team Canada at the 2006 World Junior Championships, picking up 1-3-4 in six games and helping his team win the gold medal.
The Caroline, Alberta native spent the past three seasons with Medicine Hat, collecting 44-83-127 and 85 penalty minutes in 182 career WHL games. In 2004-05, he notched a career-high 26-35-61 and 37 penalty minutes in 72 games as he led all league defensemen in goals and ranked third in points.
Eriksson, 31, was the Blue Jackets' top-scoring defenseman in 2003-04, tallying seven goals and 20 assists for 27 points in 66 games, and has registered 21-109-130 and 158 penalty minutes in 412 career NHL games with Columbus, Toronto, Florida, Chicago and Detroit. He spent part of the 2005-06 season playing in the American Hockey League, collecting 1-8-9 and 10 penalty minutes in 12 games with Springfield. He also played in the Russian Elite League, where he picked up 2-8-10 and 10 penalty minutes in 17 regular season games and 3-2-5 and 16 penalty minutes in 11 playoff outings with Magnitogorsk.
The 6-2, 220-pound native of Bollnas, Sweden was Detroit's first pick, 22nd overall, in the 1993 Entry Draft. He spent parts of three seasons with the Red Wings and was a member of the club's 1998 Stanley Cup championship team. He has registered 20 or more points five times during his NHL career, including a career-high 3-25-28 in 73 games with the Blackhawks in 1999-00. His seven goals with the Blue Jackets in 2003-04 matched his career high originally set with Detroit in 1997-98.