Columbus Blue Jackets Player Grades: Zach Werenski

Zach Werenski looking to pass up ice
Hector Urica/InsideTheRink

This is part two of many in the Columbus Blue Jackets Player Grades series. The criteria for grading are in the first part of this series, along with Johnny Gaudreau‘s grade. You can find that here.

Zach Werenski

Werenski is second in the team’s point standings after Johnny Gaudreau with 53. Out of those points, nine were goals, and 44 were assists. He is tied with a few other players for points in 110th place in the NHL. On the Blue Jackets, he is tenth in the number of games played with 68, making his point-per-game average 0.78. He has the third most blocks on the team with 151 and is tied at 20th for hits with 23. He made 4.5% of his 199 shots, the most taken on the team this season.

Last year, Zach only played 13 games before he was out with injury for the entire season. In that short amount of time, he was able to put up eight points with three goals and five assists. His point-per-game average was 0.62. Finally, he had 24 blocks and five hits.

Grade: A

In my opinion, and statistically, Zach Werenski did outstanding this season. He also hit some personal and team records. Zach has achieved the most assists for a defenseman in franchise history and is second overall only to famed forward Rick Nash. He is only the third Blue Jacket defenseman to get 40+ assists in team history. Of all NHL defensemen, he ranks 13th in points and 12th in assists this season.

A few categories hurt Werenski’s grade this season, but not by much due to other achievements. The one that hurt him the most is the number of hits made. There is an understandable reason for this. Zach’s injury last year was caused by a miss-laid hit on Philadelphia Flyer’s forward Travis Konecny. The hit missed as Konecny avoided most of it but Werenski clipped him and went into the boards. This year, he sustained a few smaller injuries. In the season opener, he suffered a quad contusion, and in December, he was out due to an ankle injury. Between the memory of last year’s injury and a few injuries this year, it’s no surprise that a player might back off on hits.

Werenski doesn’t necessarily need hits to be an effective defenseman. His other stats have been great, but his shooting percentage is another category that took a little off his grade. To me, this is a very minor stat for a defenseman, and his number of assists more than makes up for it. Taking a lot of shots can be good as it gives you more opportunities to score, and Zach generally has a great shot. One downside is that sometimes those shots can rebound to the other team and help them on a counterattack while the guy who is supposed to defend is still in the offensive zone. This is fairly minor, especially considering that Werenski has taken 199 shots this season.

As with Johnny Gaudreau, Zach Werenski’s stats will likely continue to improve as the team improves. What Werenski needs to do to be successful next year is to keep playing the way he has been. He has great game sense and a high hockey IQ. To help the team improve, he could focus on teaching younger players and working with other leaders and coaches to help create a winning culture. Overall, Zach Werenski had a great performance this season, and that momentum could carry on to the next.

219. And I'm Laura! CBJectively Speaking

Laura is back to share the story of why she has taken some time away from the show and we express our appreciation for our listeners for their continued support!Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Thread, and Twitter: @CBJectivelyPodCheck us out on Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube: CBJectively SpeakingRate, review, and subscribe wherever you listen!Check out our website: www.cbjectivelyspeaking.comCheck out our merchandise: www.cbjectivelymerch.comJeremy's Stories: https://insidetherink.com/author/jpaul/Laura's Stories: https://insidetherink.com/author/lnorman/
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Lance Schrock

Credentialed Writer covering the Columbus Blue Jackets. Host of the BrewJackets Podcast.

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