With the Leafs cap crunch looming, particularly with the flat cap and the potential that they may be signing Alex Pietrangelo, cheap depth signings are going to be key to maintaining success, especially when it could make up our entire bottom six on forward.
Enter Alexander Wennberg, a center for the Blue Jackets who may be getting bought out.
The Athletic: Has it come to this? #CBJ said to be considering a contract buyout of struggling center Alexander Wennberg; it makes huge financial sense for them to act this off-seasonhttps://t.co/MISR8kUzNj pic.twitter.com/zH7moIWbSm
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 25, 2020
The 26-year old has three years left on his deal that has an AAV of $4.9 million. For a team with roughly $7 million in cap space, restricted free agents in Pierre-Luc Dubois, Josh Anderson, and Vladislav Gavrikov to sign, and also probably looking at having an internal cap, that contract is a bit too pricey for the Blue Jackets for what Wennberg provides.
Now, that’s not to say that Wennberg is a bad player. Despite his production dropping off to a roughly 30 point player, his RAPM numbers look pretty solid.
It should be noted that this is slightly weighted because of really strong 2017-18 season, which saw him put up a 19.2 GAR. These past two seasons saw him fall down significantly with a -1.7 GAR last season, and a 1.7 GAR this season. His possession numbers over the past two seasons are middling as well, as he has a 50.37% CF% at 5v5, and a 49.02% xGF% at 5v5.
If you were to add Wennberg, he’d likely be the option at 3C replacing Kerfoot (or allowing Kerfoot to move up as a winger), so it’s a matter of if you think Wennberg is an improvement on Kerfoot there or not. Evolving Hockey has his contract projection being a one year, $1.465 million deal, so it certainly wouldn’t be pricey to pull off.
I think if you’re solely doing this move to improve on Kerfoot, I wouldn’t make the deal, but if you’re adding Wennberg to shore up the depth, or replace Kerfoot as a cheaper option, it’s not the worst idea.