Name: Robbie Russo
Weight: 189 lbs.
10-11 team: US NTDP U18
10-11 stats: 60 games, 4 goals, 26 assists, 30 points
Robbie Russo has long been one of the top defensive prospects in the United States for his age group. He committed to play for Notre Dame at the age of 15, making him the first player to commit to a western NCAA school in the '93 age group. He was also one of the players to commit to the US NTDP for his birth year.
In two seasons with the NTDP, Russo was one of the team's most reliable defenseman, playing big minutes in every situation. The biggest asset to his game is his poised nature and ability to control the puck. His calm, steadying influence on the blue line has helped make him a natural leader. He doesn't have elite pro size, and isn't a big point producer on offense, but he moves the puck very well and is very reliable in his own end.
Links of Interest:
Russo Showing Talents Early for NTDP- USA Hockey-October 2009
Player Profile: Robbie Russo-Dan Sallows
Prospect Interview: Robbie Russo-McKeen's Hockey-March 2011
Robbie Russo Draft Profile-The Scouting Report-June 2011
August 19, 2008: "1. Robbie Russo(Notre Dame recruit)-The most polished hockey player at the camp. He's got decent size, moves well, can jump into the play, and plays solid defense. He's not nearly at the level of Cam Fowler or Jon Merrill when they played in the Select 15s, but he still should be a very good player."
September 21, 2009: "Robbie Russo(Notre Dame commit): Russo is a very good player and probably one of the most developed players among this group of defensemen. It will be interesting to see if he can make the jump to being a great player and really carry this group."
December 15, 2010:" I liked Robbie Russo, as I always have, but still have the same problem I've always had with him: he's pretty good at everything, but isn't great in any particular area that is going to make him stand out and be a real difference maker at the next level. On just talent and ability, he's probably a second or third round type of guy, but his somewhat limited upside probably pushes him down a couple rounds, at least in my mind."
One big factor in favor of Russo's pro chances is that in the new NHL--especially thanks to the success of teams like Detroit and Vancouver--puck possession is at a premium, and that is an area that Russo really excels at. He's unlikely to be a shutdown defender, but shouldn't be a liability in his own end. He'll be a valuable, dependable player, even if he isn't overly noticeable.
Russo is a classic case of a player that is very good at everything, but isn't quite great in any one area. A great comparison for Russo would be the last player I saddled with that label: Matt Donovan. Donovan was a player who slipped into the 4th round of the draft, but put together two dominating seasons at Denver, before signing with the New York Islanders this spring. In hindsight, Donovan still doesn't belong in the first, or even second round of that draft, but was a much better pick than some of the third round boom-or-bust type prospects like Corey Fienhage or Adam Comrie. Russo may not put up the same offensive numbers Donovan did, but he could end up being a similar case. He may not be a first or second round type player, but beyond that, would provide tremendous value for a pick in the third round or later.