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Fantasy Spin: Russell shining in Hitchcock's system

by Pete Jensen

It may be only three games into the experiment, but defenseman Kris Russell is already paying dividends for the St. Louis Blues.

Russell gave the Blues some breathing room with a third period goal in Thursday's win over the red-hot Florida Panthers. Since joining forces with his former coach, Ken Hitchcock, in St. Louis via trade on Nov. 11, Russell has scored twice and compiled a plus-1 rating. To add even more intrigue to the situation, the Blues have won all three games since the addition of Russell, and are off to a 4-0-1 start since the organization made a coaching change earlier this month.

This 24-year-old showed flashes of promise as a puck-moving blueliner in Columbus, but never produced eye-opening numbers in his four-plus seasons with the Blue Jackets. Hitchcock, however, saw enough potential to reunite with his former player.

While the Blues are not likely to keep up their scorching start to the Hitchcock era, it's becoming less of a secret with each passing day that the 5'10 Russell is in his comfort zone in Hitchcock's system. If you're in a deep fantasy league and in need of a blueliner, look no further than Russell (4 G, 1 A, even rating, 13 PIM), who is owned in only 1 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

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