The UMass-Lowell River Hawks rolled to a 4-0 victory over Wild prospect Mario Lucia and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first of two Hockey-East semifinal matchups at Boston’s TD Garden.
Swedish defenseman Christian Folin–as a sophomore, considered to be the top undrafted collegiate free agent available–played a prominent role in the game, scoring the game-winning goal and an assist while notching a plus-1 rating and leading his team in shots-on-goal with four. With probably more than a few NHL scouts in attendance, Folin confidently displayed just why he’s so desirable to at least half the teams in the league. He blocked shots, he made sound plays on both sides of the puck, he was hardly ever off the ice it seemed. He’s the collegiate level equivalent to Minnesota’s Ryan Suter.
The question is, after failing to sign the Carey brothers, can Minnesota make a successful bid for this no doubt very intriguing young defenseman?
There are a lot of things going in Minnesota’s favor. There’s no question the franchise is just now starting to enter its “golden age” with a great mixture of All-Star-caliber veterans, emerging young guns and a prospect pool that still remains very deep with each graduating prospect. There are also very few right-shots on the blue line, so there’s every reason to believe Wild GM Chuck Fletcher will find a way to fit him in. Plus, Folin has countrymen in Minnesota’s system, including Wild top-4 defenseman Jonas Brodin, Lulea (SEL) defenseman Daniel Gunnarsson and Colorado College stand-out freshman defenseman Gustav Olofsson.
The problem is, there’s at least 14 other clubs in the mix, and it’s no secret Swedish defensemen aren’t exclusively Wild players. Other teams have just as many connections if not more. Another hang up is the potential for him to return to the River Hawks for another season or even two. Stranger things have happened. However, if he’s presented with the right situation, there’s certainly no reason for him not to sign this year.
Though eligible for the AHL, it’s looking more and more likely he’ll be given every chance to contribute during some team’s final playoff push. And that’s another factor to consider–Folin will be looking for his best chance to play more hockey this season. If the Wild can keep up its push for the playoffs, it most definitely won’t hurt the team’s chances of signing the potential impact player.
Unfortunately, whoever does land Folin will have to continue waiting–perhaps even until after the April 12th NCAA National Championship game to be held in Philadelphia. With UMass-Lowell already a lock for the NCAA tournament, they now turn their attention on tonight’s Hockey-East Final against the University of New Hampshire. That game will also be on NBC Sports Network tonight at 6:00 PM CT at Boston’s TD Garden. It should be a fun game to watch. Who knows–you could be watching a soon-to-be Wild player in action.
Tags: Christian Folin