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Wennberg eager to get to work in Columbus

The young centerman is excited to be part of team's future

by Alison Lukan AlisonL / BlueJackets.com

Alexander Wennberg has done enough waiting.

After signing a six-year contract at the beginning of September, the centerman finally arrived in Columbus on Tuesday. Wennberg had been waiting on Visa issues to resolve so that he could travel to the United States.

Now it's time for hockey. 

"I'm a young guy and I want to be a part of the Blue Jackets' future," Wennberg said. "I feel like the Blue Jackets are my team. I want to be here for a long time. Six years for me was the perfect choice.

"I'm here now and I'm ready to go. I'm excited."

Video: Alexander Wennberg signs six-year deal with Columbus

Locking in the 22-year-old through the 2022-23 season has secured another part of the Jackets young core. Since being drafted by the organization in 2013, Wennberg has continued to progress on the ice. He took over the job of centering the team's top line in 2016 and last season posted career numbers, including 13 goals and 46 assists for a total of 59 points.

This season, the Swede is slated to center a line that includes All-Star Cam Atkinson on the right and newly acquired Artemi Panarin on the left. The three also figure to be part of a top power play unit for the Jackets.

But before Wennberg could join his teammates on the ice, he had to get to Ohio.

While he waited on immigration issues to work through what he called "a long process," Wennberg continued his workouts at home and kept up as best he could with what he knew to be the grueling workouts that were happening at Nationwide Arena as part of training camp.

"I've been doing the same drills as the boys," Wennberg said. "I've been doing my best to be in shape and keep up with (my teammates). Coming back to practice, I feel like I'm in good shape, I feel good out there."

Practice was perhaps the least crazy part of the last 48 hours for Wennberg. When he finally got his passport, he booked a flight to get to Columbus as soon as he could. He arrived around midnight Monday, and completed his physical exams Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.

Then it was straight to the rink to finally be back with his teammates and take to the ice.

Video: Wennberg is glad to be back in Columbus

"I know he's been doing his work on his own," head coach John Tortorella said. "But it's just good to get him back in camp with the team and doing the things we're doing."

And while practice Tuesday for Wennberg was the same as everyone else, he knows he'll be making up those infamous skating tests and running tests that his fellow Jackets already completed.

"I'm part of the team, I've got to do it too," he said.

Now, Wennberg is just happy to be back in Columbus and he's looking forward to watching some hockey tonight. He'll get his first official look at Panarin who skated as part of the Jackets' roster for the team's first exhibition game of the season versus the Chicago Blackhawks.

"(Panarin)'s a hell of a player," Wennberg said. "He has a great skill set. It will be fun watching him play. I think we could be a really good fit."

And that's something people hope to see proof out sooner rather than later. There are five preseason games in six days including yesterday's matchup, as well as plenty of practice time for the two to find chemistry together.

And with a contract in place, and travel to Columbus complete, hockey is only thing that remains on Wennberg's to-do list.

"(When I signed my contract), the first thing that comes to your mind is you're excited to get back, you're excited to go play," Wennberg said. "I've been waiting for this day. I'm so excited to be back."

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