Monday, March 15, 2021

Alexander Wennberg Dual Jersey Card

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Alexander Wennberg reminds me a lot of Lars Eller, in that both were middle-of-the-first-round draft picks - Wennberg was selected 14th overall in 2013 by the Columbus Blue Jackets while Eller was chosen 13th in 2007 by the St. Louis Blues - who had all the tools to become top-six centers (size, passing abilities, decent speed, the ability to protect the puck, power along the boards) and even if they failed to reach their upside, their ability to play sound hockey away from the puck could justify their getting drafted relatively early regardless; there were going to be surprises and/or better-developped forwards picked later on, but they could at worst hold their own on a third line.

Eller was traded once to the Montréal Canadiens for a #1A goalie in Jaroslav Halak and subsequently fetched two second-rounders when acquired by the Washington Capitals, with whom he won a Stanley Cup as the #3 guy down the middle. He's proven to be a 15-goal, 30-point man, with a high of 38 in 2017-18, but he's a clutch playoff performer, with two decent runs (13 points in 17 games in 2013-14 and 18 in 24 games in the 2017-18 Cup run) under his belt.

Wennberg played his cards right in that he posted a career year in a contract year, parlaying a 13-goal, 46-assist and 59-point season in 2016-17 into a six-year deal paying him $29.4M, for a cap hit of $4.9M, while his production dwindled to 35, 25 and 22 points, even prompting the team to try to re-launch him by putting him on Pierre-Luc Dubois's wing with Emil Bemstrom. The Jackets ended up buying him out in the 2020 offseason, and he signed a one-year "show me" deal with the Florida Panthers, whose GM Bill Zito was a long-time assistant in Columbus.

Despite some playing time alongside Jonathan Huberdeau (34 points in 28 games), Wennberg's 13 points in 28 games rank him tied with Frank Vatrano, far behind the points totals of fellow centermen Aleksander Barkov (34) and Carter Verhaeghe (22). Still, head coach Joel Quenneville likes what he sees in terms of possession numbers and quality puck control.

Here he is one year removed from his career year, sporting the Blue Jackets' white (away) uniform, on the dual jersey insert version of card #98 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 Artifacts collection:
It features a couple of dark blue game-worn jersey swatches and is numbered #94/165.

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