A restricted free agent, the 22-year-old center completed his entry-level deal with an annual average value of $1.4 million at the end of the 2016-17 season. He enjoyed a breakout campaign for the Blue Jackets, setting single-season career highs in games played (80), goals (13), assists (46) and points (59).
With training camp approaching next month, Columbus still has two prominent RFAs to get under contract. In addition to Wennberg, the Blue Jackets also have to re-sign 23-year-old winger Josh Anderson.
Wennberg apparently doesn’t seem too worried about the situation right now, based on an interview with NHL.com.
“Eventually it’s going to work out,” he said. “Even though I have to wait a little longer than expected, that’s a part of it. But you can’t really let that get to your head. Right now, I’m focusing on training and focusing on [this] season and it’s going to work out. Time will tell. I’m not too stressed out about it either.”
Wennberg’s performance this past season, as Columbus looked to fill the void in the middle without Ryan Johansen, earned high praise from coach John Tortorella, who called his young center “probably one of our best play-makers.”
Given his production, Wennberg is due for a raise. The more intriguing detail will be the length — long term, or bridge deal — of the contract.
“There’s always different ways to discuss,” he said. “Long-term, short-term. But right now, we’re just trying to feel each other out a little bit and see what the other [side] wants. Obviously long-term is a good option, but we’ll have to wait and see.”