So Dubois has burned his bridge here. Honestly, we don’t want him anymore anyway. The diva got his Hollywood contract, good riddance. But we still need a center for our top-six, and there’s a guy who just needed a change of scenery that I would be interested in having back.
The Blue Jackets are paying Alexander Wennberg more than $891k in each of the next three seasons, to not play hockey here. Why not bring him back and make him earn some of that money?
Look, buying him out was the absolute correct decision for both sides. He absolutely refused to shoot a puck, ever, and his scoring production had dipped to just a meager 5 goals and 22 points in 57 games. All of this while the team had him signed to a contract worth nearly $5m per year – basically, second line pay – which he was far from living up to. By biting the bullet and buying him out, the team was able to pay him just 1/3 of his owed money due to his age, which gave him a chance to start over fresh somewhere else.
And that is exactly what Wenny did. He signed with Bill Zito’s Florida Panthers (remember him?) for one year, where his production picked up just a little bit. Now a member of the Seattle Kraken, Wennberg has established himself by staying healthy for the first time in his career, missing just two games over the last two years combined; and scoring 37 and 38 points in those seasons.
He currently has one year and $4.5m on his contract, which is very reasonable for a guy who can play on the second or third line. To be clear, I don’t see Wennberg as a solution to our top line center woes … in fact, I think he’s only a temporary fix on the second line. But, you know what our second line could use? Someone who can win faceoffs, understand the game on the defensive side of the puck, and distribute passes to Laine. Man, that sounds a lot like Alex Wennberg’s music. Check this out:
Line 1: Gaudreau – Jenner – Marchenko
Line 2: Johnson – Wennberg – Laine
Line 3: Texier – Fantilli – Chinakhov
Line 4: Robinson – Kuraly – Danforth
Extras: Voronkov, Olivier
Defense pair 1: Werenski – Boqvist
Defense pair 2: Provorov – Severson
Defense pair 3: Bean – Gudbranson
Goaltenders: Merzlikins, Tarasov
Again, by season’s end, I think you swap Fantilli and Jenner. By having Wennberg on the second line, you give this team a quality 18-minute-per-night line that will draw some attention from the opposing teams. This alone relieves your top line and makes it easier for them to produce, which should help remove some of the burden from Jenner and Fantilli. Call me crazy, but I think it could work. And, it might buy you just enough time for one of Cole Sillinger or Luca del bel Belluz to make the jump to the NHL.