Today's profile is on Zach Werenski, a defenseman with the University of Michigan in the NCAA
Zach Werenski, Defence, 6-Foot-2, 215 Pounds, Shoots Left
|2013-2014||USNTDP Juniors (USHL)||35||6||13||19||-4||17|
|2013-2014||U.S National Team U17 (USDP)||47||7||24||31||42|
|2013-2014||U.S National U18 Team (USDP)||4||1||0||1||0|
|2014-2015||University of Michigan (NCAA)||35||9||16||25||9||8|
Zach Werenski is one of the younger players in this draft with a July birthday. He played an entire NCAA season with the Wolverines as a 17 year old and was a key player for them throughout the season. He is part of a trio of very young NCAA players, the others being Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin, that will most likely hear their names called in the first ten picks of the NHL Draft.
Werenski is a smooth skating, puck moving defenseman who is responsible defensively and with the raw offensive skills to become a key player on the powerplay. His mobility means that he can join the rush but get back in time to help out defensively.
Alongside his impressive skating is his impressive hockey IQ. Despite playing in a league with players several years older than himself he is one of the most calm and poised player out on the ice. Far more often than not he makes the smart play. His first pass is nearly always right on the stick of the onrushing forward.
His skating, hockey IQ and passing ability means he is often a step ahead of most of those on the ice. This skill is seen most keenly in his offensive game. Werenski has the potential to put up some very good numbers in the NHL in the future.
On defense he still performs at a high level but there are elements of his defensive game that need work. The complete all round potential is there but it will take some refinement on the defensive front before he truly becomes a high level all around defenseman that could be a top pairing defenseman in the future.
Zach Werenski could step into the NHL next season but it'd probably be better for his development to remain in the NCAA for at least another year.
So will the Dallas Stars draft him? The short answer is probably not. Zach Werenski is going to go in the top ten of this draft without a question. It seems to me highly unlikely that he will be available for the Dallas Stars to pick at 12. If he were on the board I think, barring another highly tempting faller, Jim Nill would run to the podium to announce him as the Stars pick.
Werenski would be a nice pick, but he's going to have been drafted before the Dallas Stars make their selection.
What else do they say?
Smart and reliable two-way defenseman...shows skill at both ends of the ice...is a good skater with a smooth stride and fluid movements...handles the puck well with decent hand-skill, good strength and some elusiveness with it as he moves through the neutral zone...makes a great first pass and outlet...has good poise and vision with the puck on his stick...has a decent wrist shot, which he'll take from the point...isn't overly physical on defense and he needs to play tougher and meaner than he does...has good reach and he uses his stick well to take away lanes and force players wide and off the puck...poised on defense and recovers well.
Zach Werenski is a mobile, two-way defender. He has outstanding speed, which gives him the ability to join the rush, or pinch at the blueline and still be able to cover up defensively at the NCAA level. He has outstanding edge work and agility, giving him the ability to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes on the powerplay. His pivots are also very good, allowing to transition quickly from offence to defence or vice-versa. As a result of his strong skating, Werenski is able to cover a lot of ice. He has the power and balance to fight through checks, and win board battles.
Werenski has the potential to be a top pairing defenceman. He may not be as NHL ready as Noah Hanifin, but ultimately he has a higher offensive upside. Hanifin though is close offensively, and better all around. Either way these two are neck and neck as the top defencemen in the draft