20 Prospects in 20 Days: Zach Werenski

(Richard Gagnon/Getty Images)

(Richard Gagnon/Getty Images)

By: Andy Hughes (@PensNation_Andy)

With only 7 days left until the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida, we will be breaking down a prospect each day up until June 26th. Today, we will take a closer look at defenseman Zach Werenski.

(NHL.com)

Defenseman Zach Werenski, U. of Michigan (Big 10), 17 

Height: 6’2” Weight: 206 pounds, Shoots: Left

RANKED:

NHL Central Scouting: 9th among North American Skaters

TSN: 7th among all players

 2014-15 Stats: 35 games, 9 goals, 16 assists, 25 points, 8 penalty minutes

 

Although he is one of the youngest prospects in the 2015 draft class, defenseman Zach Werenski is also one of the most promising players available at his position. Werenski was determined to join the NCAA so he took some extra summer couses to enroll early at the University of Michigan. That decision really paid off for the 17-year-old defenseman as he notched 9 goals and 25 points in 35 games. Those are really impressive numbers for the youngest player in NCAA Division I hockey. Despite his young age, Werenski was a top-four defenseman with Michigan and played in nearly every situation, including the power play and penalty kill. He is a lot of fun to watch because of his incredible skating ability. He can cover a lot of ice using his good speed to recover defensively if he needs to. He also makes the transitions from offense to defense or vice versa extremely easy. Werenski is a great power play quarterback because of his high hockey IQ. He always seems to know what the right play to make is. In addition to his excellent play-making abilities, Werenski also has a good slap shot. He’s a dual threat when he’s on the power play, which makes him one of the top offensive defenseman eligible for the draft this year. He plays good defense too, and isn’t afraid to get physical to clear out the front of the net. As with most prospects at the defense position, Werenski gets caught puck-watching sometimes, forcing him into a bad position. That’s okay though, because usually as these players get older, they improve their defensive game.

Did I mention he’s 6’2″ and weighs 206? There are plenty of impressive things about this young man and I’m sure he’ll be selected within the first top ten picks. The San Jose Sharks at ninth overall would be a good fit for Werenski. The Sharks have plenty of skilled forwards and would like to get younger on defense. Werenski probably isn’t as close to the NHL as some of the others in this draft class, but his upside could match or exceed those other defensemen as well. If he develops the right way, he will be a top pairing defenseman one day.

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Previously Seen in “20 Prospects in 20 Days”:

Brock Boeser
Lawson Crouse
Noah Hanifin
Ivan Provorov
Kyle Connor
Timo Meier
Dylan Strome
Mitch Marner
Mathew Barzal
Thomas Chabot
Evgeny Svechnikov
Mikko Rantanen
Ilya Samsonov