Fresh off his Freshman year at Michigan, defenseman Zach Werenski is eligible for the NHL Entry Draft, and looks to be one of the top blue-liners in this year's deep pool of talented prospects. Slated as one of the first few defensemen to be taken off the board, he may not fall far enough to be taken by the Bruins at 14, but some mock drafts have him going as low as 12th, so anything can happen.
|Zach Werenski||Grosse Point, MI||17||6'2"||214||D||NCAA||8.4|
Zach was the youngest player in the NCAA last season, and won't turn 18 until this July. He's uncertain to make a jump directly to the NHL this coming season, but is a great prospect to have for the future, as his skillset is the epitome of today's style of hockey. Werenski is described as a pure puck-mover, great on the powerplay and in transition, who is poised and composed in all situations. There isn't a time where he seems overwhelmed, even in huge moments. It's part of the reason he was selected the US World Juniors team, appearing in 5 games and finishing with a +3 rating.
A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman that has a strong understanding of the game. Excels in key situations and is able to execute under pressure. Possesses good vision and awareness on the ice; uses his abilities to put offensive and defensive pressure on the opposition. All-in-all, a very strong all-around defenceman that consistently brings his game every night. (Curtis Joe, EP 2014)
A puck-mover with size is something the Bruins already have in Dougie Hamilton. But as Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman-Larsson showed in
Phoenix Arizona, you can never have too much of a good all-around defenseman. Described as having a similar style to Jack Johnson, Werenski put up 25 points in his first 35 NCAA games, impressive for college hockey at any level. His defensive game isn't a mere afterthought either, as he added 59 blocked shots for the Wolverines.
The combination of speed, size and skill is trending in the Bruins pipeline, especially among their defensemen. Joe Morrow, Zach Trotman, and Linus Arnesson are on the cusp of breaking the Bruins roster, and further in the system are Rob O'Gara and Wiley Sherman. Despite his age, Werenski possess the potential to jump by them all on the depth chart if his development goes well. He could very well be a call up early next Spring for whatever team lands him in the draft.
Smart and reliable two-way defenseman…shows skill at both ends of the ice...is a good skater with a smooth stride and fluid movements...handles the puck well with decent hand-skill, good strength and some elusiveness with it as he moves through the neutral zone…makes a great first pass and outlet…has good reach and he uses his stick well to take away lanes and force players wide and off the puck…poised on defense and recovers well. (Future Considerations - August 2014)
While Werenski should be off the board before the Bruins pick--barring a trade up the draft order--falling to 14 would almost guarantee he's taken by Boston. A talent of his caliber can't be ignored, and while he might end up in the double-digits of this draft, and is overshadowed by fellow NCAA defenceman Noah Hanifin, he'd be a potential Top 5 pick in almost any other draft pool.