Seeing as the CBJ have decided to play in an entirely frustrating manner this year with their fluctuating performances, I thought I'd give an update on just how good Columbus's 14th overall pick, Alexander Wennberg, could be.
So far Wennberg has posted a line of 8-1-9 in 23 games played in his first season in the Swedish Hockey League, which is on par with, or slightly better than the AHL here. That comes out to roughly .39 points per game, which are solid figures, especially for the kid's first go round in the SHL. What makes them even more impressive are how he stacks up to several other players that have come up through the SHL, such as Anze Kopitar and Nicklas Backstrom.
Let's start with Backstrom, who spent a little less than half a season in the SHL as a 17 year old, playing in 19 games, where he didn't register a single point back in 2004-2005, which certainly puts Wennberg ahead of him in points produced through his first 20 SHL games. Now looking at his first full season (2005-2006), Backstrom exploded onto the scene posting a 10-16-26 in 46 games played, at a whopping .56 points per game pace as an 18 year old, putting him firmly above Wennberg in terms of point production. So while I would certainly agree that Wennberg stylistically compares to Backstrom, he isn't quite there in terms of production. However, I will say that I love that Wennberg is producing so well for being taken at the 14th spot, especially when you consider that Backstrom was taken 4th overall.
Now looking at Anze Kopitar who was taken 11th overall (damn you MacLean), who as an 18 year old in his first SHL season posted a line of 8-12-20 in 47 games played, putting up .42 points per game. Kopitar's point production was very good in the SHL as an 18 year old, and Wennberg's near identical numbers are very encouraging. Stylistically speaking Wennberg isn't as much of a physical presence as Kopitar, but he has certainly shown a willingness to drive to the net this year, as most of his goals have been scored within 10 feet of the net.
So in summary, I don't think Columbus will be receiving the elite playmaker that Backstrom is from the Wennberg pick, .56 PPG to .39 PPG is just too large of a gap, but it looks like Columbus could still be getting quite a player when looking at Kopitar's production .(42 PPG) in comparison to Wennberg's (.39 PPG). The thought of getting a player as good as Kopitar at 14th overall would just be dandy, especially after all of Columbus's previous drafting failures. Not bad for a 3rd line center taken at 14th overall, right Pierre McGuire?