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2019-20 Player Review: Zach Werenski leads all NHL defensemen in goals, removes any and all doubt in stellar season

Werenski cemented his place as an elite defenseman in the National Hockey League

NHL: Florida Panthers at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Werenski had an outstanding 2019-20 season. Playing 63 of a possible 70 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Werenski registered the following career highs:

-time on ice, with 23:59
-goals scored, with 20
-shooting percentage, at 10.7%
-plus/minus, at +9
-fewest PIMS, with 10
-game winning goals, with 4

In addition, Werenski was on pace to better his career marks for shots taken on net, total shot attempts, and points. You could call this Werenski’s breakout season, the year he finally arrived and removed all doubt about his performance in the union blue.

Werenski was not only a mainstay in the lineup, he was a critical component of an offense that struggled mightily this season. Werenski was third on the team in points, tied for fourth in assists, and finished second on the team in goals scored. For an offense that ranked 28th in the regular season by goals per game, Werenski was an invaluable tool from the blue line - similar to, though not on the level yet of, Brent Burns or John Carlson.

Werenski, playing in the first year of his three year bridge deal, partnered with Seth Jones to form one of the most formidable pairs in the National Hockey League for much of the season. Jones and Werenski are excellent compliments - Jones, more defensive-minded, allows Werenski to venture forward as a “rover” in the offensive zone. This does not make Werenski weak in the defensive zone; he is more than capable defensively in his own right.

Zach Werenski 2019-20 Stats

Regular Season

Games Played: 63
Goals: 20
Assists: 21
Plus/Minus: 9
PIM: 10
5v5 CF%: 49.8%
5v5 FF%: 50.7%


Games Played: 10
Goals: 1
Assists: 2
Plus/Minus: 1
PIM: 4
5v5 CF%: 45.2%
5v5 FF%: 45.0%

Contract Status

Next season, Werenski will be entering the second year of a three year bridge extension that he signed in September 2019.

While being paid $4 million in actual dollars, Werenski will count $5 million against the salary cap in the 2020-21 season.

At the end of his contract, he will be a restricted free agent, though one with arbitration rights.

High Point

December 31, 2019

On former goaltender Sergei Bobrovky’s first visit to Nationwide Arena since he left to join the Florida Panthers, Werenski was more than willing to spoil the party.

Werenski scored the first hat trick by a Blue Jackets defenseman since 2006 en route to a 4-1 victory on New Year’s Eve. It was his first NHL hat trick.

Low Point

On November 2, 2019 Werenski was on the ice for all three Calgary goals as the Jackets were downed 3-0 by Flames on home ice. Werenski collected no points and took two penalty minutes in his worst outing of the season.

On December 1, 2019, Werenski was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Expected to miss four weeks, the defenseman missed only two.



How would you grade Zach Werenski’s 2019-20 season?

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