The Seattle Kraken has added to their center depth by signing former first-round pick Alexander Wennberg to a three-year contract valued at $13.5 million. The annual average value of the deal will be $4.5 million, a slight pay cut from the $4.9 million he made last season with the Florida Panthers.
The Columbus Blue Jackets selected Wennberg with the 14th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. After a year finishing up his commitments in the Swedish Elite League, he debuted the following season in 2014-15. The native of Stockholm, Sweden, is approaching 500 NHL games with 471 played through seven seasons. He has 201 points so far, thanks to 40 goals and 161 assists.
Wennberg has reached double digits in goals twice, with his personal best (17) coming this past season as a member of the Panthers. His previous career-high was 13, which occurred during the 2016-17 campaign in Columbus. That season, he scored 59 points, which included 46 assists—both still his best numbers to date.
Related: 2021 NHL Free Agent Signing Tracker
There would be plenty of people who say that Wennberg has not lived up to the billing as a high first-round pick, but those are the ones who only look at the scoresheets. Even with a 46.1 win percentage in the faceoff circle, Wennberg is not your typical center. He has an edge to his game, including blocking shots (292) and putting the body on opponents (260 hits). So far, he remains a positive player regarding takeaways and giveaways (231-154).
Fit with the Kaken
When you examine the roster of the Kraken, you can see that Wennberg will slide into the second or third line. He may never put up the numbers to be a scoring champion, yet Seattle has signed a player they can rely on to suit up for a full season, play 16-18 minutes a night, and score 20 points.
Wennberg could be a veteran presence in the right dressing room, bringing a wealth of experience to his position. He can help with the development of fellow teammates, like Alexander True and Morgan Geekie. Although not a captain or alternate, he can be a leader without a letter.
Whether it is blocking shots or taking out his opponent, younger players can look up to Wennberg and see that it takes dedication to their craft to succeed at the NHL level. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what happens on the scoreboard, but what happens on the ice. Wennberg has a unique skill set that should yield immediate results for his new team.
Pieces in, Pieces Out
After 2016-17, his numbers slowly started to decline, which led to his departure from Columbus, opting to sign with Florida for the 2020-21 season. The Panthers were on the rise, and Wennberg fit into the system. However, the team recently traded for Sam Reinhart and planned to utilize him in a role that Wennberg was suited for. After the trade, it appeared that Wennberg would hit the free-agent market for the second time in his young career.
Seattle is looking to build a contender in this first season. The franchise looked into available players and had a feeling that acquiring someone with Wennberg’s skills was worth pulling the trigger on.