The future is now.
Since helping Lake Erie to win the cup, Werenski has not only broken into the NHL as a rookie, he's cemented a position on the top pairing within the first ten games on his NHL career, with possession metrics that stand on equal footing with some of the best in the league - while scoring at a point per game pace.
All at the age of 19.
His play has been so stellar - the confidence he's brought to the blue line so remarkable - that even the news that Seth Jones will miss three weeks due to a fractured foot is bad, but not the instant nail in the team's coffin that one might have expected before we had a good look at what #8 could do, when given the opportunity.
Will it be enough to push past guys like Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Patrick Laine? Last year's Calder Race may provide a clue.
Shayne Gostisbehere ended up as the runner up to Artemi Panarin for the award last season, with 17-29-46 in 64 games, and some excellent possession numbers. (59.4 CORSI For, 12.1% Corsi REL, 59% Fenwick, 103 PDO) But it's worth noting that he did that with heavily sheltered icetime - over 70% of starts came in the offensive zone.
Even if Werenski slows his current blistering scoring pace, if he can maintain or improve his puck possession numbers (54.5% CORSI For, 11.9% CORSI REL, 52.1% Fenwick, and 106 PDO), he's in the conversation - particularly when you consider that Torts isn't shy about putting Werenski on the ice regardless of the situation - his Offensive vs. Defensive zone starts are damned near even (52% offensive, 48% defensive), and the loss of Jones makes it even more likely that the team will be leaning on the rookie D-man for their tough minutes.
Will it be enough for the NHL's general managers to agree that this young man is the best of his class?
Evidence suggests that it just might.