2017-18 Player Review: Zach Werenski
Werenski played through a shoulder injury and still put up a solid season. If he gets healthy? Look out.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski had an interesting season. He notched 3-3-6 in the first twelve games of the season before he was, we now know, injured in the October 30 game against the Boston Bruins. Werenski continued to play, however, missing just five games over the course of the season.
Speculation raged over the course of the year about Werenski - was he hurt, was this simply regression, what was affecting his play, because clearly, something was. On Thursday, we got our answer:
#CBJ announce D Zach Werenski had shoulder surgery today in Columbus. Recovery is 5-6 months. Expectation is that he’ll be ready for the start of 2018-19 season “or shortly thereafter,” per GM Jarmo Kekäläinen— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) May 3, 2018
Werenski clearly played through discomfort last season, yet he still managed to put up excellent numbers. He increased his goals scored number, his CF%, and his average time on ice, all while wearing a harness for much of the season. Werenski played well in spite of his injury, which bodes well for next season when he returns to the lineup fully healthy. To do what he did, at his age and with his injury, is commendable. The kid is a monster.
Zach Werenski, next season, will be entering the final year of his entry-level contract. He, among other players, will be key priorities for the front office to sign this summer. Werenski figures to be a key figure for the Blue Jackets franchise for the next decade and beyond, and keeping him in a Jackets sweater is of paramount importance. Negotiations can begin on July 1, and expect the Seth Jones contract to be a starting point for both player and club.
Werenski, who does not turn 21 until July, looks to return healthy and play to his full potential next season. He will be able to more fully engage in puck battles along the boards, unleash the slap shot he has spent time working on, and fully utilize his lightning-fast wrist shot. Werenski has not yet begun to peak for the Blue Jackets and will be a very bright spot going forward for the club.
Zach Werenski 2017-18 Stats
Games played: 77
Time on ice: 22:35
Penalty Minutes: 16
Corsi For (even strength): 54.4%
Werenski posted a season-high three assists in New York as the Blue Jackets defeated the Islanders on February 13, including two assists on the power play as his unit helped lead the way to a big road win.
The injury. Werenski played hampered for most of the season and was unable to utilize his full skill set as a result. After having offseason surgery, Werenski will have a chance to improve on his play next season when he returns.
How would you grade Zach Werenski’s 2017-18 season?