In his latest article for SB Nation’s Nashville Predators blog On the Forecheck, blogger Bobby Misey puts the Matt Duchene rumors aside for a moment and takes a look at another available center with even more potential than Duchene: Columbus Blue Jackets pivot Alexander Wennberg.
The 22-year-old Swede broke out in 2016-17 with 13 goals and 59 points for the Blue Jackets but is currently still un-signed for next season. By comparison Wennberg put up 18 more points than Duchene and is four years younger. While he may not have the name recognition of Duchene, there’s a pretty obvious case for Preds general manager David Poile to prioritize him in trade talks. If given the opportunity to flourish in Peter Laviolette’s offensive system, rather than stifled in John Tortorella’s defensive system, there’s no telling the heights that Wennberg could reach. We’re talking 25+ goals and 70+ points, which would make him the team’s top line center ahead of Ryan Johansen.
So, what’s the likelihood of a trade or an RFA offer sheet for Wennberg? The Blue Jackets currently have over $12 million in cap space with just Wennberg and forward Josh Anderson left to sign, so they’re facing no significant financial pressure. If Preds fans were hoping to scoop up Wennberg for nothing, think again. The amount the team would have to pony up with an offer sheet would make such a move prohibitive. Never count out a trade though, the Preds still possess all of their selections in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and have other intriguing trade assets like Austin Watson, Colton Sissons and Pontus Aberg. Or, if they really want to make things happen, they could look at moving Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm.
What do you think? Is Wennberg worth pursuing? Or, should Poile continue to hammer his way through negotiations with Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic on a Duchene trade?