Wennberg-5 WEB

Fresh off a flight from Seattle to New York City, Alex Wennberg has arrived.

The Rangers’ newest addition joined the team at the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown for an early 11 a.m. practice on Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after receiving the news that he had been dealt from the Seattle Kraken. Wennberg donned No. 91 and centered a line with Jimmy Vesey and Will Cuylle as the team practiced following a two-day hiatus in the schedule.

“First of all, it’s a dream come true to play for the Rangers,” Wennberg said as he greeted the media following practice. “Then also, in this position pushing for the playoffs – Seattle, we were fighting to get in, and now instead, I feel like I can help this team reach the playoffs. I want to win the Cup as well, so it’s a great opportunity."

The 29-year-old left shot will bolster the Rangers’ forward depth. Wennberg, who is currently in his 10th NHL season, prides himself on his versatile two-way play. Sized at 6-foot-2 and 190pounds, Wennberg can be deployed on both special teams units but is specifically known for his penalty kill prowess.

Through 60 games with Seattle this season, Wennberg has compiled 25 points (9G, 16A), one shorthanded goal and two power-play goals. Over the course of his career spent among the Blue Jackets (2014-20), Florida Panthers (2020-21) and Kraken (2021-24), Wennberg has totaled 330 points (90G, 240A) through 693 total NHL games.

“My game right now is mostly defensive,” Wennberg explained. “My role in Seattle was to shut down the [opponent’s] first line. I feel like I have that offensive play in me as well. It’s a team sport, so you’ve got to do what’s best for the team.

“[The Rangers have] fire power offensively,” Wennberg continued. “For me, to slot in as a third-line center, I think that’s perfect. I can play both sides [of the puck]. If it’s to play a 200-foot game, play extra on the [penalty kill], I’m ready for it. It’s a time to adjust for sure, but the spot is open and there to take so I’m ready for that.”

Despite having just taken a whirlwind cross-country flight overnight and enduring a three-hour time difference, Wennberg impressed his teammates as he joined them for practice. Fortunately, for the native of Stockholm, Sweden, he already is used to some familiar faces on the Rangers, in fellow Swedes Mika Zibanejad and Erik Gustafsson, plus former Columbus teammate Artemi Panarin.

“Another Swede, I’m happy,” Zibanejad said with a grin. “He’s a great player. Great two-way [player], loyal to the team, smart player, great passer, he’s had success in the league. He’s a great player coming in and will add a lot to our team.”

The familiarity between Wennberg, Zibanejad and Gustafsson doesn’t stop with being fellow countrymen. Zibanejad called Wednesday a “fun little reunion,” for the trio, who all went to high school together back when they were playing junior hockey for Djurgardens IF.

“He was a player I liked back then,” Zibanejad said. “He’s an incredible guy. Probably a lot has happened in his life and [the same] for me [since] I was 16 or 17 and [last] played with him. But he’s super kind and is a great person. It’s exciting when things like this happen, especially when you know who the guy coming in is.”

Wennberg began packing up his house in Seattle a few days ago knowing he would be traded. While the destination was unclear until yesterday, joining the Rangers with Zibanejad and Gustafsson also affords him and his pregnant wife some comfort, as she will also have some familiar faces in the Big Apple.

“They’ve been so welcoming for my family,” Wennberg said. “That just makes it easier moving coast-to-coast.”

Wennberg will have another opportunity to settle in and get his bearings as the Rangers will practice again on Friday before resuming game action on Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues.

“He’s going to be well-acclimated,” said Rangers Head Coach Peter Laviolette. “Having two days of practice, being able to get some video, work on a couple of drills each day out here with regards to the system, I think that helps acclimate him and work him into it.”