Alex Wennberg reconnects with childhood friends from Sweden on Rangers

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Wennberg took the redeye flight from Seattle to New York after being acquired by the Rangers on Wednesday. When he arrived at the team’s training facility for practice Thursday morning, he was greeted by two childhood friends.

“I have my Swedes here to take care of me,” Wennberg said with a smile, referring to Mika Zibanejad and Erik Gustafsson.

Wennberg attended the same high school in Sweden as Zibanejad and Gustafsson, and each player came through the Djurgarden system in junior hockey. Wennberg and Gustafsson were also teammates with Frolunda in the SHL during the 2013-14 season.

Gustafsson was born in 1992, Zibanejad in 1993 and Wennberg in 1994, so they were often at different stages in their development. But Wennberg knows his new Rangers teammates well.

“I played with Gustafsson. Mika was always the one I was chasing a bit because he’s a year older,” Wennberg explained after his first Blueshirts practice. “ But just great guys. Erik and I played in Frolunda, so we go way back and I know his wife and they’re helping my family, so that just makes it easier moving coast to coast.”

Related: Get to know newest Rangers center Alex Wennberg

‘Great player’ Alex Wennberg welcomed to Rangers by childhood friends Mika Zibanejad, Erik Gustafsson

NHL: Seattle Kraken at Buffalo Sabres
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers traded a second-round draft pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2026 to acquire Wennberg. The 29-year-old had his bags packed and family ready to move for several days after he was told by the Kraken he was definitely going to be traded.

“Another Swede, I’m happy,” Zibanejad joked. “It’s a fun little reunion right now.”

Above and beyond the Swedish connection, Zibanejad belies the Rangers added a solid player to the lineup.

“He’s a great player. Great two-way,” Zibanejad explained. “He’s loyal to the team, smart player, great passer. He’s had success in the League obviously. It’s another great player coming in and he’ll add a lot to our team.”

Coach Peter Laviolette said that Wennberg will center a checking third-line which will have heavy defensive responsibilities. He’s expected to make his Rangers debut at home Saturday when the Rangers host the St. Louis Blues.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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