As NCAA teams start dropping like flies, the season of signing undrafted collegiate free agents hits full stride.
The Minnesota Wild was active on the undrafted Canadian major junior free agent scene, signing five-year veteran right wing Zack Mitchell out of the OHL’s Guelph Storm, and five-year veteran center Brady Brassart out of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. In addition, the team signed its third round pick in 2013, right wing Kurtis Gabriel, to an entry-level deal out of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. But there’s good reason to believe the team is far from finished.
The Wild has been linked by several sources to three of the NCAA’s top undrafted collegiate free agents in brothers Greg and Matt Carey and Swedish sophomore defenseman Christian Folin. After much speculation as to where Greg, the older brother, would land, he would ultimately sign with the Phoenix Coyotes. Matt, a freshman tied for 38th in the country with 37 points and 18 goals, is a bigger forward and considered more NHL-ready than his older brother. He’s still raw at this point, however. The Wild are anxiously awaiting his decision which is expected to come later today.
Here’s a bit of what I wrote about the Careys and Folin in yesterday’s article:
Yesterday, it was reported that the Wild was one of a few clubs said to be in the running for undrafted collegiate free agent brothers Greg and Matt Carey. Both young players dominated the Canadian Junior “A” ranks before taking their talents to the NCAA’s St. Lawrence University. According to the Watertown Daily Times, the brothers are expected to make their decisions at some point later on today. The elder Carey brother, Greg, is said to be the best forward available in this year’s unrestricted collegiate free agent crop.
In addition, Minnesota is also supposedly in on UMass-Lowell Swedish defenseman Christian Folin. After three seasons spent between the USHL’s Fargo Force and the NAHL’s Austin Bruins, Folin played two seasons with the River Hawks, scoring 11 goals and 26 assists for 37 points in 75 games.
A hulking defenseman at 6’3″ 210-pounds, EliteProspects.com describes the youngster as:
A defenseman of decent size. Has good potential to become a skilled defenseman in the future. Keeps his game fairly simple and uses his body at good opportunities. Has decent offensive qualities, such as his shot, but is at his best in the defensive zone. (Matias Strozyk)
Folin is thought to be perhaps the best undrafted collegiate free agent skater available this year and is expected by many scouts to be able to step in and skate regular shifts on an NHL roster immediately. In addition, we all know how much this organization prizes talented young Swedish defensemen. What’s even better is that he’s a right-shot defender–something Minnesota sorely lacks both in its NHL defensive corps and its prospect pool.
Folin is being heavily pursued by Minnesota, Philadelphia and Boston…and probably 12 other teams, as well. Fortunately for the UMass-Lowell defender, he’s still got some time as the River Hawks have advanced to the Hockey East Semifinals. Folin and UMass-Lowell can be watched live on Friday, March 21st, as they take on Wild 2011 second round pick Mario Lucia and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 4:00 PM CT. The game will be played at Boston’s TD Garden.
There’s a lot of talent signed directly out of the collegiate ranks every season–heck–current Wild players Nate Prosser and Justin Fontaine were signed directly out of school. It’s an intriguing crop this year, will Minnesota reap the benefits?