UMass Lowell defenseman Christian Folin was one of the most coveted college hockey free agents this season, and when the River Hawks’ season ended in the NCAA tournament, the 23-year-old signed with the Minnesota Wild.
Folin made his NHL debut Thursday night and picked up an assist on Kyle Brodziak’s third-period goal in Minnesota’s 4-2 win over the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues.
Folin also finished with a plus-3 rating in 19:26 of ice time, which included 2:00 of power-play and 2:38 of shorthanded time. In fact, Folin received more than eight minutes more of ice time than Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, who leads the NHL in time on ice per game.
Overall, Folin was excellent in his debut. He was poised with the puck, made quick passes out of the zone to start the breakout and wasn’t afraid to get engaged physically. His smooth skating — one of the strengths of his skill set — was also on display.
Folin’s impressive debut is an encouraging sign for the Wild, whose blue line already includes one of the league’s best young defensemen in Jonas Brodin. Portland Winterhawks defenseman Mathew Dumba, whom Minnesota selected No. 7 overall in the 2012 draft, also has a bright future.
The Wild have clinched the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, but Folin is not eligible to play in the postseason. With that said, the experience he will earn at the end of the regular season will definitely help him heading into the summer.