Zachary Werenski, LD
Hometown: Grosse Pointe, MI, USA
Drafted: 2015 by Columbus Blue Jackets, 8th overall
October 2017 – Amid comparisons to Drew Doughty, Werenski opened his second NHL year with a power play goal and one block during 19:07 TOI as the Blue Jackets shut out the Islanders at home 5-0. After a stellar rookie season, expect Werenski to cement his place among the league's best blueliners this year. Kevin Wickersham
June 2017 – Werenski has been cleared by doctors to resume practice. He is eight weeks past a facial fracture. No surgery was required, just 18 stitches. Look for him to make a full recovery and be at full speed come training camp. Mark Hinrich
June 2017 – After a great rookie season which saw him put 11 goals and 36 assists, Zach Werenski has qualified as a Calder Trophy candidate, for Rookie of the Year. While admittedly a dark horse behind the likes of Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, merely being nominated as a finalist is a huge honor. Mark Hinrich
September 2016 – Joining the Lake Erie Monsters for their playoff run after his Sophomore season at the University of Michigan, Werenski was nothing short of dominant. At just 18 years of age, Werenski was far and away the best defenseman of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs and absolutely dominated play whenever he was on the ice. Werenski played very important minutes for the Monsters during the playoffs and finished with five goals and nine assists for 14 points during 17 playoff games.
At 6-2 and 210 pounds, Werenski already boasts an NHL-ready frame and projects as a very clear top pairing defender. It is not out of the question to think that Werenski earns a Top four spot on the Blue Jackets blueline beginning with the 2016-2017 season. Erik Scheifer
March 2016 – The talent Zach Werenski possesses is obvious to anyone who has seen him play over the last two seasons. Watching the smooth-skating defenseman carry the puck up ice, it's easy to forget he stands 6'2" tall and weighs in at a stout 209 lbs. Although Werenski has the size NHL scouts and GM's covet in a top pairing defenseman, his skating ability and offensive instincts are what sets him apart. Solid vision and defensive play in his own end help Werenski round out a game that makes him one of the top all-around defensive prospects not currently playing in the NHL. Although many fans see his arrival in Columbus as early as next season, it would be wise for a team in the early stages of a longer-term rebuild to put Werenski in a position to eat minutes and learn the pro game with time in the American Hockey League. At just 19 years old, Werenski is still very young and has plenty of time to grow both physically and mentally as a hockey player. The jump from NCAA hockey to the NHL is something few players can handle and even fewer benefit from. Werenski's development would benefit greatly from beginning next season with the Lake Erie Monsters and learning the pro game in the AHL. Erik Schiefer
December 2015 – Werenski has been named captain of team USA in the World Junior Championships. The retuning defenceman will play a major role for the squad hoping to rebound from a disappointing showing last year. Hayden Soboleski
June 2015 – The Columbus Blue Jackets selected Zach Werenski 8th overall. Brendan Ross
February 2015 – Excelling as a freshman on the Wolverines’ blue line, Zach Werenski also didn’t look out of place on a young American blue line at the WJC where he arguably outplayed draft peer and teammate Noah Hanifin. Werenski’s tool box is stacked and he uses all of his tools to manage the blue line very well. His style is reminiscent of Jacob Trouba, a former UofM blueliner. His skating, puck handling, defending and decision making are all above average and he packs one of the hardest point shots of this age group. Innately athletic, Werenski possesses a frame that should develop enviable strength that he can use to perfect an emerging defensive game. His highly competitive attacks and overall passion for the game makes Werenski a potential top pairing defenseman. Brendan Ross
Werenski proved in the AHL playoffs he is ready for the NHL and should break in as a full time top four in 2016-17 and have an immediate fantasy impact.
Zach Werenski 2015 WJC Highlights:
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