The NHL has released the first part of their Top Players list, picking 50 through 41. Young Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski has continue to get praise from the league and just made the cut at number 50.
Zach Werenski Makes the NHL’s Top 50 Players List
Unsurprisingly to anyone who watched the Blue Jackets last season, Werenski has impressed. What’s even more impressive is that in a market that has been tough to get league-wide recognition, Werenski has done just that in only a single season.
Werenski, 20, led all rookie defenseman in goals (11), assists (36), powerplay points (21), shots on goal (188), among multiple other things. It’s because of this that John Tortorella quickly learned to trust him and put him as a first pairing defenseman with shutdown partner Seth Jones.
This partnership, and the emergence of Werenski, was a massive boost to the Jackets last season. They had the best season in franchise history, and Werenski deserves his fair share of credit for their success.
Werenski didn’t just show his apparent talent, but also his ability to sacrifice his body for the Blue Jackets. In the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs he took a shot off his face, effectively ending his season. However, the coaching staff said that Werenski wanted to go back out and help the team win.
It’s plays like this that show the toughness of the young defenseman, and it has won him the respect of head coach Tortorella. After the puck to the face Tortorella said this,
“[He’s got] balls as big as the building doesn’t he? Doesn’t surprise me with him.”
Tortorella is always good for a quote like this, and it shows just how highly he thinks of Werenski. It’s now safe to say, after this list and being included in the NHL’s top 20 defenseman list, that the rest of the NHL shares the same sentiments about Werenski: he’s a star in the making.