Kings’ McLellan on Christian Wolanin: “He’s Come as Advertised”

Mar 24, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin (24) warms up prior to the start of game against the Calgary Flames at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin (24) warms up prior to the start of game against the Calgary Flames at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports /
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He may not have generated much fanfare with his arrival but Christian Wolanin is nonetheless making the most of his time with the LA Kings.

When he was acquired by the LA Kings on March 29, defenseman Christian Wolanin didn’t come with much hoopla. The native of Quebec City was more or less expected to add depth to the roster of the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign. However, as a result of a couple of absences on the club’s back-end, Wolanin was called up to the NHL and has filled in nicely thus far.

In a trade that helped the Ottawa Senators add some depth up front with the addition of Michael Amadio, Wolanin was sent to the west coast to begin a new chapter, so to speak.

If the last decade is any indication, the LA Kings have stressed the importance of defensive prowess on their blueline. Wolanin doesn’t exactly fit the mold in this regard. So, while he certainly isn’t a defensive liability per se, the 26-year-old’s strengths lie more in his offensive game. Still, the Kings needed a body to fill in after Tobias Bjornfot (upper-body) and Matt Roy (COVID list) were sidelined.

Following practice on Monday, Kings head coach Todd McLellan spoke about Wolanin’s addition and what he’s brought to the table thus far.

“Mobility, a puck-moving defenseman,” he said. “He’s come as advertised. Not easy to come and play two minor-league games and then get called up right away, and play, and try and figure out systems or structure, your teammates. But, he’s done a pretty good job. You can see that he can skate. He skates well with the puck head up and some good outlet passes.”

Whether or not he’ll be a long-term fixture for the Kings’ defensive corps, Wolanin’s strengths can certainly make up for his deficiencies. This according to the Kings’ head coach.

“There [are] questions about his strength and that type of stuff, but if his legs get him out of a lot of trouble, you can play with some deficiencies,” McLellan noted. “We still have to make some judgment calls on him, so I think getting him in and getting the opportunity, and he looks confident, looks like he belongs. Good signs.”

In an opportunity to prove himself with his new team, Wolanin has done fairly well in his three games with the Kings.

While he hasn’t recorded any points yet, the blueliner has done well defensively, blocking four shots, amassing a plus-one rating, and averaging 14:49 of total ice time. Unfortunately for Wolanin, he had a setback on Monday night when he took a costly penalty vs. Vegas that ultimately helped the Golden Knights to victory. That, of course, is an adjustment that needs addressing. Overall, though, not a bad start by any means.

Drafted 107th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2015, Wolanin went on to have a solid collegiate career at North Dakota before jumping to the pro ranks, where he alternated between the NHL and the AHL.

It may also help Wolanin that he is a second-generation NHLer.

His father, Craig, a defenseman drafted third overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1985, went on to a 13-year career where he won a Stanley Cup in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche.

Once Bjornfot and Roy do return to action, we will see where Wolanin fits in, whether he remains in Los Angeles or is sent back to Ontario. For the time being, though, the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder is taking advantage of his stint with the Kings, which will certainly give the club more incentive to think twice about demoting him.