COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Alexander Wennberg was all smiles when Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen announced his name as the 14th pick overall during the first round of the NHL Draft.
It's no wonder he was happy--after several meetings with the team during the 2012-13 season, at the NHL Scouting Combine and right before the draft, Wennberg felt that the Blue Jackets were a perfect fit.
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"I had a lot of talks with the Blue Jackets and I felt like they were a great team for me," said Wennberg after he was drafted. "I'm very satisfied right now."
After a 32-point season with Djurgarden IF Stovkholm and impressive international play at the 2013 World Junior Championships that led to a silver medal for Team Sweden, the Blue Jackets picked Wennberg for his hockey sense and ability to play at top speed. His versatility as both a winger and a center also made him an attractive pick for the organization.
Wennberg's nearly seemless transition from junior hockey to the professional Swedish Allvenskan League - a big jump for Swedish players to make - caught the attention of the Blue Jackets scouting staff. Wennberg had his eyes set on Blue Jackets too, especially during the exciting end-of-season stretch where the team went 19-5-5.
He watched the team's successes and wants to play a crucial role in the success of the Blue Jackets in the future.
“(The Blue Jackets) had a great season last year and have a lot of good players coming up," said Wennberg. "So I think it's great for me to come in there and show I’m a great player...I want to play on their team. It’s a great opportunity.”
Wennberg said he thinks the team is moving in the right direction and is developing into a championship contender. He hopes that he can make the NHL jump soon to help the Blue Jackets reach their goal and make an immediate impact.
"I think Columbus is on their way up and I think in a couple years they could be a Stanley Cup team," said Wennberg. "So right now, it's a great feeling being here.”
Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson was pleased with the 14th overall pick. After the draft wrapped up on Sunday evening, he spoke of Wennberg having a skill set befitting of a successful NHL player, but also cautioned that he may need some time to reach that level.
"With Wennberg, we're happy with a kid that certainly has speed," said Davidson. "He needs to build himself up and get stronger, but the skills are there. He's really rocketed up over the last year. He's a good kid. He knows what he needs to work on. But there's something there and there's a lot of speed when he skates."
Though Wennberg will return to the Swedish Elite League next year to fulfill his contract obligations with Frolunda, he intends to be NHL-ready when the 2014-15 season comes around.
"I'll gain some more weight, get stronger and improve my skill," said Wennberg. "If I'm going to be ready for the NHL, I need to improve everything because it's such a great league."