Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild signs free-agent defenseman Christian Folin; will join team in Chicago

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news Updated: March 31, 2014 - 10:28 PM

The Wild landed what many considered the biggest college free agent on the open market Monday night.

Christian Folin, the 6-foot-3, mobile, hard-shooting, two-way, right-shot defenseman from Gothenburg, Sweden, agreed to terms on a two-year, $1.85 million entry-level contract that begins immediately. Folin, 23, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, will join the Wild on Tuesday night in Chicago, will practice Wednesday and can play in any of the final six regular-season games.

He is not playoff eligible because he’s a free agent signing after the trade deadline.

“Physically, you don’t normally have a young man coming out of college or junior that possess his physical attributes,” General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “We think he fits perfectly into our defense corps going forward. He’s what we need. We need a little more size, we need a guy that can shoot the puck and it’s hard to find right-shot defensemen.”

In helping lead the River Hawks to the Hockey East tournament title, Folin led UMass-Lowell defensemen with 20 points in 41 games. He scored 21 points in 38 games as a freshman.

Prior to college, Folin played two seasons with the Austin (Minn.) Bruins of the North American Hockey League, scoring 41 points in 87 points.

“Physically, we certainly feel he can make the jump right away,” said Fletcher said. “Whether he gets in or not will be up to the coaches.”

I'll have more on the signing after the game, but the Wild again burns the first year of the contract, which are the rules of the game. Big signing for a few reasons:

1) Joins growing impressive prospect pool of D that includes Olofsson, Dumba, Gunnarsson, Labbe, Seeler, Soucy, de Jong; 2) He's a right-shot, big, mobile, big shot. This also lessens the Wild's need this summer to go out and spend on a right-shot D in my opinion.

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