GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Robbie Russo on Wednesday was named to the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities.
In his first pro campaign after a stellar four-year collegiate career at Notre Dame, Russo has tallied five goals and 34 assists (5-34—39) in 65 games for Grand Rapids, while posting a league-leading plus-47 rating that is tied for the highest mark by an AHL player since 1993.
Russo, who has been on the ice for only 28 even-strength goals by the opposition all season, has also contributed offensively, ranking third among AHL rookie defensemen and 11th among all league blueliners in scoring. His 39 points have established a new Griffins record for rookie defensemen while ranking eighth on the team’s all-time rookie scoring list. Russo’s 34 assists are already the most ever by a rookie defenseman, and he is just two shy of tying Gustav Nyquist’s record for assists by a first-year Griffin (36 in 2011-12).
Russo becomes just the third defenseman in franchise history to be named to the All-Rookie Team – joining current teammate Ryan Sproul (2013-14) and Brendan Smith (2010-11) – and the seventh Griffin overall to earn such accolades (Teemu Pulkkinen 2013-14, Gustav Nyquist 2011-12, Justin Abdelkader 2008-09, Jimmy Howard 2005-06). All six previous All-Rookie Team members from the Griffins have gone on to play at least one game in the NHL.
Highlights from Russo’s rookie campaign include: earning the AHL’s Player of the Week honors on Feb. 29 after tallying two goals, five assists (2-5—7) and a plus-8 rating in four games; setting a career high with four points (1-3—4) during a 7-2 victory against Manitoba on March 11; and recording a seven-game assist streak (Dec. 5-19) that fell one game shy of tying the club record.
A 23-year-old native of Westmont, Ill., Russo was originally a fourth-round draft pick (95th overall) by the New York Islanders in 2011 and signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings on Aug. 16, 2015.
Russo will receive a custom-designed crystal award in recognition of his selection to the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team.
The other members of the 2015-16 AHL All-Rookie Team are: goaltender Juuse Saros (Milwaukee Admirals), defenseman Brandon Montour (San Diego Gulls), and forwards Austin Czarnik (Providence Bruins), Mikko Rantanen (San Antonio Rampage) and Frank Vatrano (Providence Bruins).