After rumours that he might test free agency despite having only spent three years in the NCAA, Christian Wolanin has signed with the team that drafted him. His entry-level contract is two years in length.
News Release: #Sens sign defenceman Christian Wolanin to a two-year entry level contract: https://t.co/mBcFx7Zv76— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 21, 2018
Communiqué : Les #Sens accordent un contrat de niveau débutant d’une durée de deux ans au défenseur Christian Wolanin : https://t.co/mFtoRN6lex
Originally drafted as in the 4th round as part of the Sens’ loaded 2015 draft class (his second eligible year), Wolanin has exceeded all expectations playing for the University of North Dakota. He’s been an offensive force in the NCAA’s toughest division, becoming the first defenceman to lead UND in scoring since 1983.
At 23 years old, he broke his career highs in goals (12), assists (23) and points (35), in his 40 games played. He was named to the NCHC’s second all-star team, although his team failed to make it out of the NCHC’s Frozen Faceoff on Saturday and into the NCAA’s playoffs. This comes after a stellar run the year before, where he became an NCAA champion with North Dakota while playing with the likes of Brock Boeser, Tyson Jost and Tucker Poolman.
We’ve covered Wolanin plenty in our weekly prospect updates, as his offensive upside has made him impossible to ignore. He was ranked #20 in our annual Top 25 Under 25 Series, after not making the list the year before.
Personally, I found him to be one of the strongest players at the Sens’ development camp. Of course it’s to be expected since he was one of the oldest players, but the 3-on-3 tournament in particular was the perfect event for him to showcase his skillset. He led his team to tournament victory — you can watch the finals here.
The Sens featured him in one of their Farm Reports this season, where Wolanin offered the following quote:
“At Development Camp, they tell you that if you can’t play in every zone on the ice, you aren’t going to play. You might be able to make it for a few games but you won’t last. That’s something that I’ve always been focused on and I want to prove that I can be responsible and reliable defensively. That’s been my mentality going into each game, the offence will come but I want to be consistent on the back end.”
As fantastic as he is past his opponent’s blue line, the defensive aspect still stands out as his biggest weakness. His gap control will still need work, although that’s not to say it hasn’t improved over the course of the season. But he’ll always be known as an offensive defenceman who could pick up extra minutes on the power play.
With Erik Karlsson temporarily out of Ottawa’s lineup, a spot could be open for Wolanin to get a few games of NHL experience down the stretch. The AHL is also an option, as they’ve been having to send one of Burgdoerfer or Sieloff to play with the big club.