The news comes as a surprise since it would appear the 22-year old defenseman would fit the Islanders defensive system. Russo has developed into a good offensive defenseman, who was a big part of the Fighting Irish's success. During his senior campaign, Russo recorded 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 40 games and was named to the CCM Hockey All-American team. Russo's 41 points were the most by a defenseman in the Hockey East conference. He also led the NCAA conference in goals by a defenseman.
Russo finished the season a plus-13 as well.
The Islanders have plenty of depth in the system, which could explain their decision to forego signing Russo to a contract, but he is a talented player and could have been a nice prospect to have in the system. Russo will garner interest from other NHL clubs on the free agent market and it would be hard to imagine that another team does not give him a chance.
Russo was ranked 55th by SB Nation in a top 100 list of NHL prospects playing in the NCAA.
He will become a free agent on August 15 when college hockey players' NHL rights expire.