One-year-ago the Detroit Red Wings hit the NCAA jackpot by signing Danny DeKeyser. The former Western Michigan Bronco defender has proven to be one of Ken Holland’s best free agent signings in recent memory.
This year the most coveted college free agent is U Mass Lowell’s 6-foot-3, 210 lbs, Swedish defenseman Christian Folin. In 39 games Folin has 6 goals, 13 assists, and 19 points for the River Hawks.
Yet, it’s his play in the d-zone that has many NHL teams excited. Folin is a big, reliable, low risk defender who possesses a high hockey IQ.
However, there will be a healthy competition for Folin’s services. According to the CBC’s Glenn Healy a number of teams have expressed a considerable interest in signing the Swede.
There is no question that there are a lot of top teams that would like to add a great young defenseman, however, I believe there are 3 reasons why Christian Folin would be a good fit for the Detroit Red Wings:
1. Right Handed Shot
Currently, every defenseman on the Detroit Red Wings shoots left. The Wings have been searching in vain for a right handed shooting defensemen ever since the departure of Brian Rafalski in 2011.
One obvious benefit Folin would provide Detroit with is versatility in both zones. Whether it’s keep-ins on the right blue line, or having right handed shot for clearing the puck out on an important d-zone faceoff, Folin’s skillset is one the Red Wings’ covet.
And, by all accounts Folin’s shot is a heavy one to boot. Mike Babcock would love having the option of putting out a big right handed shot on the powerplay….without jeopardizing shorthanded opportunities in the process.
2. The Swedish Connection
Detroit is a home away from home for Swedish hockey players. Daniel Alfredsson admitted that playing with his fellow countrymen played a huge part in his decision to join the Wings last summer.
The Wings already have 9 Swedes on their roster, more than any team in the NHL. And, Folin could learn and develop under the watchful eye of one of Sweden’s best defenders in Niklas Kronwall, sounds like a good plan to me.
Henrik, Niklas, Johan and the gang will find Christian a cozy spot to rest his head in Novi Michigan, or as some like to call it: “Little Sweden.” If Folin wants to make a smooth transition into the NHL ranks what better fit then with a team chalk full of Scandanavians?
3. Breakout Help
To say that moving the puck out of their own zone is a struggle would be an understatement. At times it seems like the Detroit d-men are incapable of making a good first pass out of their end.
Although, Folin isn’t known for his offensive game, he excells at retrieving and moving the puck out of his own zone quickly and efficiently. Collectively the Wings’ defense are a minus 17 and this group could use any help they can get to improve upon that lackluster statistic.
Oh, and the last time I checked the Detroit Red Wings have a pretty good track record with developing Swedish defensemen.