My Take On Alex Wennberg

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Following his play thus far versus Toronto, and especially after his benching in the team’s dramatic OT win in Game 3, there’s been a bit of chatter about the relative contribution of Alex Wennberg to the team’s success. Spoilers: it hasn’t been good.

Over the span of the last two seasons, Wennberg’s FF% (rel) — his plus/minus ratio of unblocked shot attempts, adjusted for deployment, quality of line mates and opposition — has been 0.6% and 0.4%, respectively. His on-ice save percentage (5v5) has been 90.5% and 89.5%.

His points per game performance has dropped from being consistently above 0.500 (a 40+ point pace, decent-to-good production for a tweener 2/3 C) to around 0.300, which is bottom-6 production.

His expected offensive production has been below water the past two seasons, with a net value of -3.8 (xGF of 38.3 minus 42.1 xGA) last season and 0.9 (23.5 xGF minus 22.6 xGA) this past season. For a sense of context, his rating was +11.1 (50.0 xGF minus 38.9 xGA) in 17-18.

His point shares (as calculated by Hockey Reference) are 0.8 and 1.2 respectively for the past two seasons. Those numbers are buoyed by his defensive point share, which has been a relatively stable 1.1 to 1.2 for his career (with bumps up to 1.9 and 2.1 in 16-17 and 17-18, when he earned Selke votes), which means that for the past two seasons he has added no more offensively than a replacement-level player, but has provided relatively competent defensive play overall.

At this stage in his career, his best comparables are guys like Yuri Khmylev (who had two good seasons to start his NHL career, but never came close to living up to that level after the lockout), Josh Anderson and Steve Downey (but absolutely without a physical game to fall back on when the production falters), and, paradoxically, Ryan Dzingel, whose game and profile cannot be more different than Wenns’, but has provided a similar level of overall performance (or lack thereof) for his teams.

The most damning numbers, however, are these ones:

If he was bought out this summer, it would cost the team exactly the same in real dollars as one year of pay (he’s owed $5.35 million per season for the next 3 years, contractually). The cap hit for buying him out would be $442K for three years, and $892 for the next three. Both numbers are eminently manageable, even in a flat-cap world. Over the span of the last two seasons, Wennberg has played at a replacement-level offensively, and like an average bottom-6 C defensively. His actual value to the team could easily be replaced in the offseason for half what he is being paid, even after factoring in the cost of buying him out.

TLDR: At this point, it makes the most sense to buy out Wennberg's contract and reallocate that cap space. It wouldn't harm the team cap-wise or, based on his overall performance over the past two seasons, on the ice.

That's it; I'm tapping out on Wenns.