Another reliable player is going to be hitting the free agent market on Friday. Reports are making the rounds that the Columbus Blue Jackets will be clearing some cap room by buying out two-way center Alexander Wennberg.
According to two reliable sources in Aaron Portzline of The Athletic and Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch, Wennberg will hit NHL waivers today for the purpose of a contract buyout. This was the last day a team could put a player on waivers prior to free agency kicking off tomorrow.
Wennberg has three years remaining on his current contract, so the Blue Jackets will be taking a long-term hit here, but the actual dollar amount isn’t massive over those six years. Given his age, the Blue Jackets will only be responsible for paying 1/3 of his remaining salary. It breaks down as follow:
- 2020-21 $441,667
- 2021-22: $441,667
- 2022-23: $441,667
- 2023-24: $891,667
- 2024-25: $891,667
- 2025-26: $891,667
This decision will save the Blue Jackets nearly $4.5 million in cap space over the next three seasons. Speculation is that the team is interested in a couple big names, potentially ready to make a play for winger Taylor Hall. That cap space will be invaluable if it works out they are able to land him.
Not to mention, the Blue Jackets acquired Max Domi who will play center behind Pierre-Luc Dubois and still have Boone Jenner, Riley Nash and Mikhail Grigorenko as depth options.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said:
“I wish Alex the best of luck and thank him for his contributions, both on and off the ice, to the Columbus Blue Jackets over the past seven years. Decisions like this are never easy, but we believe it is in the best interest of our club at this time.”
Where Will Wennberg Land?
According to Portzline, “There will be no shortage of suitors for Alexander Wennberg when he hits free agency on Friday.” He adds that he’s an exceptional defensive player, positionally sound and really smart/strong on the penalty kill.
While he won’t make anywhere near the $4.9 million he’d been making in Columbus, he could sign for $1.5 to $2.5 million as a third-line center and come in at a good value for that money.
The Edmonton Oilers could certainly use a third-line center and will likely make a phone call to Wennberg’s agent.
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