When the Los Angeles Kings acquired 26-year-old defenseman Christian Wolanin from the Ottawa Senators on March 29, they had a chance to make the deal last beyond just this season. Playing on an expiring contract this season, Wolanin appeared likely to be a restricted free agent this summer. However, there was a chance that he could instead qualify for Group VI unrestricted free agency, a status reserved for players 25 and older with three or more professional seasons but with fewer than 80 NHL games played. Yet, due to the shortened 2020-21 season, that games played total was actually reduced to 71 total games played for Wolanin, making it even less likely that he would end up as a Group VI UFA. He entered the season with 43 games played and as a starting defenseman for Ottawa it seemed fairly obvious that he would play the necessary 28 games if he stayed healthy.
The first sign that Wolanin may fall short of the games played requirement for further team control came during a streak of ten games earlier this season when Wolanin was benched by the Senators. With the likes of Mike Reilly and Artem Zub establishing themselves as blue line fixtures for Ottawa early on, Wolanin slid out of the top four and then out of the lineup entirely.