Zach Werenski
Image: USA Hockey

Zach Werenski

Hometown:

Grosse Pointe Michigan

Currently Playing In:

Pro

Birthday:

1997-07-19

Position:

D

Eligible for draft:

2015

Shoots:

Left

Drafted:

2015

Height:

6-2

Acquired:

1st Round (8th Overall), 2015

Weight:

215 lbs.

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History

2011-12: Zach Werenski skated for the Belle Tire Tier 1 U16 team in Michigan. He scored 8 goals with 20 assists and had 18 penalty minutes in 35 regular season games. Belle Tire reached the Michigan state championship series, falling to eventual national champion Honeybaked. Werenski attended the USA Hockey Select 15 player development camp in Rochester, NY in July 2012.

2012-13: Werenski played for the Little Caesars U18 team as a 15-year-old. In 28 games he scored 7 goals with 14 assists and 18 penalty minutes. He was invited to the USA Hockey National Team Development Program evaluation camp. Werenski was selected by the London Knights in the second round (24th overall) in the 2013 OHL Priority Draft.

2013-14: Werenski joined the USA Hockey NTDP program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, skating in four games with the NTDP U18 team and serving as an assistant captain for the U17 squad. Werenski represented the USA in the 2014 U17 World Hockey Challenge in Canada. He scored 1 goal with no penalties skating for the NTDP U18 team. In 47 games for the program’s U17 squad he scored 7 goals with 24 assists and had 42 penalty minutes. Werenski had 1 assist in six games at the WHC as the USA captured a gold medal, shutting out Canada Pacific, 4-0, in the gold medal game. Werenski committed to playing college hockey at the University of Michigan; graduating high school a year early to be eligible for the 2014-15 season.

2014-15: Werenski skated for the University of Michigan in his freshman season and was one of two 17-year-olds to play for the USA U20 team at the 2015 World Junior Championship (2016 NHL draft-eligible forward Auston Matthews was the team’s youngest player). Werenski scored 9 goals with 16 assists and was +9 with 8 penalty minutes in 35 games for Michigan. The Wolverines finished second in the Big 10 Hockey Conference but did not receive an NCAA tournament bid after falling to Minnesota, 4-2, in the conference championship game. Werenski scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was +3 with 2 penalty minutes in five games at the WJC. The USA finished fifth, losing 3-2 to Russia in the quarterfinals. Werenski skated for Team Grier in the 2014 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game and was ranked ninth amongst North American skaters in the Central Scouting final rankings. He was selected by Columbus in the first round (8th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft.

2015-16: Werenski made his pro hockey debut with Columbus AHL affiliate Lake Erie in April 2015 after signing an entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets following his sophomore season at the University of Michigan. He was a staple on defense for the bronze medal-winning United States U20 team at the 2016 World Junior Championship. The fourth-leading scorer and top offensive defenseman for the Wolverines, he scored 11 goals with 25 assists and was +5 with 20 penalty minutes in 36 games for the Wolverines. Michigan finished second to Minnesota in the Big 10 in the regular season but earned an NCAA tournament berth after defeating the Gophers, 5-3, in the conference championship game. The Wolverines topped Notre Dame, 3-2 in overtime, in the Midwest Regional semifinals before falling to North Dakota, 5-2, in the regional championship game. Werenski scored 2 goals with 7 assists and was +10 with 4 penalty minutes in seven games at the WJC. The USA defeated Sweden, 8-3, in the bronze medal game.

Talent Analysis

Werenski is a high-end defenseman. His understanding of the intricacies of playing defense shouldn’t be understated, nor is his smooth skating stride or elite vision. Werenski moves the puck carefully, and has the wheels to skate himself out of trouble. He is a calculated, cerebral blueliner.

Future

Werenski signed a three-year entry-level contract with Columbus in March 2015 following his sophomore season at the University of Michigan. He is expected to fit in well with the other high end defensemen in Columbus such as Seth Jones, Ryan Murray and Jack Johnson.

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