Amongst the unfortunate and devastating news that the Ottawa Senators revealed on Tuesday, the team has made another announcement this morning. The Sens have signed defenceman Christian Wolanin to a two-year entry-level contract. Wolanin will travel to Ottawa and is expected to join the Senators this week.
The signing takes place just a day after it was revealed that captain Erik Karlsson and his wife Melinda's son had died. The couple announced they were expecting in November 2017. Karlsson had previously said the baby was due in mid-April, around the start of the NHL playoffs.
The 27-year-old star blue liner didn't suit up in the Senators' 7-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Tuesday night. The Senators issued the following statement regarding team captain Erik Karlsson and his wife, Melinda.
"The collective thoughts and prayers of the Ottawa Senators organization, the city of Ottawa and entire hockey community rest with Erik and Melinda Karlsson following the loss of their son.
We ask that you respect the family's wishes for privacy during the grieving process."
After last night's game, his teammates and head coach Guy Boucher offered their condolences, as reported by CBC.
"Everybody is heartbroken, it's awful," Boucher said. "We definitely feel for Erik and his wife and his family.
"It's been a tough year but this is a real personal, devastating blow to them. We feel for them and Erik is going to take the time he needs to come back and once he does we'll do our best to support him. It's definitely a sad day."
"As expecting parents it hits a little deeper," Sens forward Zach Smith said. "I don't know what else to say. It's devastating and I just feel terrible for them. I just hope they're doing OK and we'll be here to support them."
In the meantime, as Karlsson takes time to grieve and be surrounded by his family, the Senators sign Wolanin on Wednesday.
"Christian is talented player that has displayed high-end offensive skill from the blueline during his career at the University of North Dakota," said Senators general manager Pierre Dorion. "He made the decision to turn professional and we are happy to have him under contract. Christian will join our team in Ottawa for the remainder of the season, which will present a tremendous opportunity for him to learn and develop."
The 23-year-old defenseman led the NCAA's University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks in scoring with 35 points, including a career-high 12 goals, in 40 games this season. According to the Senators' website, he "became the first defenceman to lead UND in scoring since long-time NHL star James Patrick accomplished the feat in 1982-83 and was named to the all-National Collegiate Hockey Conference team following the completion of the regular season."
We could see him take part in his first NHL game sooner rather than later.