What do the Canadiens have in Christian Folin?
Dale Weise was the focal point of the trade, but the Canadiens also added some depth on defence.
Dale Weise is a Montreal Canadiens player once again, and coming along with him is defenceman Christian Folin from the Philadelphia Flyers. Folin isn’t going to be anything groundbreaking for the team, in fact he’s more likely to be a rotating bottom-pairing defender for the Habs going forward. He’s inexpensive, especially with the Flyers retaining about 20% of his salary, which still leaves plenty of room for the Canadiens to make further moves.
Digging into his numbers a bit further one thing is very clear: Folin is not going to bring any sort of crazy offensive game to Montreal. His career high in points in the NHL is 13 with the Los Angeles Kings last year, and even in the NCAA he only topped out at 21 points for UMass-Lowell. Fortunately for him, the Candiens aren’t relying on big offensive numbers from their bottom pair. What they need is defensive reliability in those minutes.
Jordie Benn and Brett Kulak have solidified the third pair this year now that Shea Weber is healthy, and Victor Mete has begun to find the next level in his game. That right now leaves Folin as the spare defender, and that’s likely the right fit for him if the organization chooses to keep him out of the AHL for the time being.
Compared to Benn, Folin’s underlying numbers aren’t great, but it’s worth noting that the Wild, Kings, and Flyers have had some subpar seasons while Folin was there. Claude Julien seems to have found a knack for getting more out of castoff players in recent seasons, including Folin’s old teammate Mikey Reilly.
It’s not a guarantee, but with Carey Price instead of Michal Neuvirth or the oft-injured Brian Elliott behind him, Folin might be able to relax and play a bit stronger game. The issue is that Folin is not a Shea Weber or Jeff Petry in his own end, and he very much has some work to do.
At 5-on-5, Folin is able to limit shots in the slot and the faceoff circle area, which is great. The problem is that he bleeds chances directly around his net, which is already a longstanding problem for the Canadiens. It’s a slightly different story on the penalty kill, where Folin only played a small sample for the Flyers this year.
Thirty-eight minutes is a minuscule sample size, but in that time it looks like Folin was a fairly useful penalty-killer for the Flyers. There’s no guarantee that he’ll be used as such, but Julien now has that option should he be so inclined.
Finally, if the team wanted to, Folin makes only $800,000, with the Flyers also retaining some of that money as well. The CBA allows just over a million dollars to be fully stashed in the AHL if the team sent down Christian Folin for any reason. As a likely seventh defencemen there’s always the chance he could be sent down at any time, especially if the Canadiens get a healthy Noah Juulsen back at some point, or if they want to give Cale Fleury an NHL look. Folin would fit the Rocket’s theme this year of veteran players helping many of the rookies and young prospects on the roster as well.
All in all, the Canadiens didn’t strike gold with Christian Folin. He isn’t going to blow people away at either end of the ice, but he’s a decent depth option if the team needs him. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season so he isn’t blocking any long-term development of prospects, and adds a little safety net. Worse things have happened in trades, just don’t expect the world of Folin and you won’t be overly disappointed.