The Ottawa Senators have inked one of their young restricted free agents, signing Christian Wolanin to a two-year deal. The contract is a two-way deal in the first year that will pay him $800K in the NHL and $100K in the AHL, while the second year is a one-way contract and carries a $1MM salary. Wolanin will still be a restricted free agent at the end of the deal, as long as he plays in 40 NHL games over the duration.
Wolanin, 24, played 30 games for the Senators in 2018-19, recording 12 points and generally looking quite capable at the NHL level. In the AHL he was even better, recording 31 points to actually finish the season as the highest scoring defenseman on the team despite suiting up just 40 times. That success likely has him in line for a full-time NHL role, though after signing Ron Hainsey the team could potentially lean a different way. Wolanin’s future might also depend on how well top prospect Erik Brannstrom looks in training camp, since he is still waiver-exempt.
Still, some financial stability is worth it at this point for the fourth-round pick. Wolanin took his game to the University of North Dakota for three seasons after being drafted so he is only now coming off his entry-level deal. The $1MM in year two means he’ll be owed at least that much as a qualifying offer in the summer of 2021, when he likely will be eligible for arbitration.