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Stars get Russell from Flames for two players, pick

Defenseman leads NHL with 3.4 blocked shots per game @NHLdotcom

The Dallas Stars acquired defenseman Kris Russell in a trade with the Calgary Flames on Monday.

Calgary received defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, forward prospect Brett Pollock, and a conditional second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

"I wanted to stay a Calgary Flame, but when you hear you're going to a team that has a good chance to win a Cup and has a lot of talent on that team, it's pretty exciting," Russell said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's tough to leave, but it's the next chapter and I'm excited to be a Star."

Russell, 28, leads the NHL with 3.4 blocked shots per game and is second with 174 blocks. He has four goals and 15 points in 51 games and averages 22:52 of ice time per game.

"Kris is ultra-competitive and a solid two-way defenseman," Stars general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. "He will bring a steadying presence to our blue line and we feel he will help us improve in several areas."

Dallas hosts the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. Russell was in Philadelphia, where the Flames play at the Philadelphia Flyers. He hasn't played since Feb. 12 because of a groin injury.

Video: Stars acquire Kris Russell from Calgary Flames

"For me personally, it was tough," Russell said. "I want to be out with my teammates, especially when things weren't going good. You want to help your teammates. That part, I wish I could've had a few more games with them. It was a chance to really heal up and get ready. The Flames didn't hold me out. It was the trainers and myself. I needed to know that when I was called upon, whether it was tonight for Calgary or down the line for someone else, I was ready to go 100 percent. I feel good now."

Calgary president of hockey operations Brian Burke told the Flames website there was a lot of interest in Russell, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

"There's always hope that something's going to get done," Russell told Sportsnet. "I expressed that I really wanted to stay in Calgary, but there's a lot of things that went into that."

Burke said the Flames tried to work out a new contract for Russell, but the need to get contracts done with forwards Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, who can become restricted free agents, made that difficult.

"I think it's important our fans understand we made a concerted effort to sign [Russell]," Burke said. "We love [Russell]. He's an Alberta kid; he's everything we want in a player here. But where our team is (26-31-4, next-to-last in the Pacific Division) and the players we have coming up to sign limits what we're in a position to do. We made that clear to [Russell], and his agent has said he wants to test the market. We understand that."

Calgary will receive a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft if Dallas reaches the Western Conference Final with Russell playing at least half the games in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Your name is getting thrown around so much with different teams," Russell said. "You didn't know where you were going to end up if you were to be traded. To have a team like the Dallas Stars showing this much faith in me and coming out and trading for me, it's really exciting. I'm really excited to be a part of that organization."

Jokipakka, 24, has two goals and four assists in 40 games with the Stars this season and averages 14:30 of ice time per game.

Pollock, 19, was taken by the Stars in the second round (No. 45) of the 2014 NHL Draft. He leads Edmonton of the Western Hockey League with 67 points in 63 games.

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