With the NCAA hockey season winding down and teams being eliminated, there is the yearly list of college free agent players looking to make the jump to go pro.
The biggest name and potentially best of the group is UMass-Lowell defenseman Christian Folin, a 6’3″, 210lbs Swedish blue liner. The scouting report on Folin is that he’s an excellent skater, fundamentally sound in all three zones and plays with an edge.
His decision and potential destination will be known soon, as his UML River Hawks were recently eliminated by Boston College in the NCAA tournament.
Not all college free agents that are signed work out and make an impact at the NHL level immediately, however recent players such as Matt Read, Torey Krug and last year Danny Dekeyser have shown pursuing college free agents can pay off.
This year, where the crop is reportedly thinner than other years, there has still been a number of signings including Trevor Van Riemsdyk (Chicago), Kevin Goumas (Philadelphia), Greg Carey (Phoenix), Ryan Haggerty (New York) and Eric Knodel (Toronto) among others.
Oilers a Good Fit
If he’s looking to get a chance to play right away Edmonton might be his best bet. Similarly to Justin Schultz a couple years ago, should he sign he will be given every opportunity to gain a spot in the Oilers top six for next season. Barring multiple moves likely Schultz, Andrew Ference and Jeff Petry are the only defensemen guaranteed a starting spot next season, which means there will be jobs up for grabs.
Folin has been described as someone who is a positionally sound defender who plays a physical game and has a rocket of a shot. Such a defenseman is desperately needed in Edmonton and Folin would be welcomed.
In his two years at UMass-Lowell, Folin continued in his development in a big way, growing into a physical, mobile two-way defenseman capable of playing at the NHL level and possibly even excelling. His numbers took a dip this year as his defensive responsibility grew, but in two years, he’s posted 40 points in 77 games for one of the best teams in college hockey over that span. – CBS Sports
Should he sign with the Oilers he would likely join a group including Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom, Anton Belov, Mark Fraser and top prospect Darnell Nurse for a starting spot.
Like with most prized college free agent prospects, there will be a number of suitors for his services. Rumoured to be the hunt as frontrunners are the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche in addition to the Oilers.
Neither of the other teams can offer the same opportunity to start right away, however all can offer a better chance to win immediately than the Oilers can.
Representatives of those teams have been spotted at UMass games including the Lightning’s Steve Yzerman. Edmonton has their own connection as GM Craig MacTavish is a Umass alum and played there himself in his college days. Oiler fans are hoping he can use that relationship to land the big defenseman.
— Hockey Tracker (@Hockey_tracker) March 26, 2014
Hotstove: Friedman says teams in running for NCAAA defenseman Christian Folin: Minny, Philly, Wash, Colorado.
— George Malik (@georgemalik) March 29, 2014
The Oilers would love to add Folin to their stable of impressive defense prospects. Adding him to the group of Schultz, Nurse, Marincin and Klefbom would give the Oilers better odds that one or more could turn into the top pairing defenseman they so desperately need.
The defense position has been much maligned, and rightly so, over the last few years. There is help on the horizon and the Oilers have been collecting young assets over the past few drafts in an effort to add depth and blue chip talent to the position. Adding Folin will further the development on the blue line and aid in both of those areas.
Carl covers the Edmonton Oilers for THW as well as providing additional prospect coverage. Follow him on twitter @carlTHW, connect on Facebook or contact at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, comments or if you’re interested in him writing for you.