The Columbus Blue Jackets came away with the fifth-rated European skater by taking Swedish forward Alexander Wennberg 14th overall in the 2013 NHL draft. The Blue Jackets have finished bottom-six in the league over the past two years in goals scored, so making an upgrade at this end made sense.
The CBS Eye on Hockey crew gave this selection by the new regime a B in their first-round evaluations: “Jarmo Kekalainen‘s first pick as GM of the Blue Jackets is a good one in this slot. There might have been a few flashier players available, but Wennberg does a little bit of everything. He plays at both ends of the ice and has some skill to be a solid offensive contributor. CBJ doesn’t need him to be ready tomorrow, so I’d expect he’ll get a year or two more in Sweden.”
The 18-year-old center currently skates with Djurgarden IF Stovkholm of the Swedish Allvenskan League, where he will hone is game for a while before joining Columbus on American pro ice.
“The plan is to stay in Sweden one more year and maybe gain some more weight and get stronger, and improve my skill,” Wennberg told the team website. “If I’m going to be ready for the NHL I think you need to improve everything because it’s such a great league. After this year, I’ll just wait and see what’s going to happen.”
Wennberg is expected — optimistically — to lead the Blue Jackets’ resurgence in a couple years.