The Columbus Blue Jackets have needed their center, Alexander Wennberg, to improve since they traded Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators last year for Seth Jones. The Blue Jackets traded away a top flight center which depleted the team’s depth down the middle.
Wennberg was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2013 NHL Entry draft, but his third year had to be bigger than his first two because of the team’s lack of center depth. Wennberg in his first two seasons put up impressive numbers tallying 20 and 40 points respectively, but the club knew that they could get more out of the young Swede.
To start the season Wennberg has been on a scoring tear tallying 19 points in the club’s first 20 games. This is a truly impressive pace that may solidify Wennberg as the team’s top center. The 22-year-old is still growing, but confidence is gushing from his game.
The Blue Jackets as a whole have been a much more confident team starting off strong, but Wennberg seems to be much more comfortable on the ice. He has been passing the puck beautifully, and he has been listening to John Tortorella, who stated he needed to shoot more.
Alexander Wennberg Moving Forward
Random intermission thought. I’m starting to entertain the notion of Alex Wennberg being a 1C. #CBJ
— Mark Scheig (@THWMark) November 26, 2016
The loss of Ryan Johansen has been tempered with Wennberg improving at such an impressive rate. The Columbus Blue Jackets lost a true number one center in Johansen, but Wennberg has shown early on in this season that it is not out of the question for him to be a top center in the NHL.
It may be drastic with the Blue Jackets only playing about a quarter of a season to appoint Alexander Wennberg as the end all be all, but he has shown growth throughout his first two seasons that he continues to grow. With this being said, Wennberg needs to put the puck in the back of the net more often.
Wennberg did not break double-digit goal totals in his first two seasons, but he surely will scoring four goals in his first 20 games. The Blue Jackets improvement has been riding on the improvement of their young core with Wennberg being the biggest improvement.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are sitting in a Wild Card spot right now,but fans cannot feel completely in the clear with past performances. The team does seem different including Wennberg, but the fans of Columbus will not feel settled until the team has clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Columbus’ Other Options at Center
With Wennberg improving enough to be on the Blue Jackets top line, Brandon Dubinsky’s slow start offensively does not hurt the Blue Jackets as much as one would imagine. Dubinsky has tallied just 2-5-7 in 18 games, but this does not mean he is not effective. Dubinsky has been a force on the forecheck and defensively. While he is not lighting it up scoring wise Dubinsky is still a player that adds a spark to a young Jackets team.
Another young Swedish center for the Blue Jackets is William Karlsson. Karlsson plays a very good two-way game creating chances when he has the puck while playing a stellar defensive game. Karlsson is a weapon on the penalty-kill with his speed, but he is still lacking on the offensive end.
Lastly, the Blue Jackets recalled Lukas Sedlak from the Cleveland Monsters and he has shown he can be effective in the NHL. Sedlak has four assists in his first 18 NHL games, but he has not been able to find the back of the net. Sedlak is a big body that plays a rugged game and is fitting in perfectly on the Blue Jackets’ bottom line.