Zach Werenski

Zach Werenski

26-Year-Old DefensemanD
Columbus Blue Jackets
2023 Fantasy Outlook
Werenski got off to a strong start in 2022-23, scoring three goals and eight points in 13 games, but he didn't play past Nov. 10 because of a separated shoulder and torn labrum. The good news is he's been able to train normally over the summer and should be fine for training camp. He does have a significant injury history, so that's a point of concern, but the 26-year-old defenseman is nevertheless a prime bounce-back candidate. Werenski's projected to serve on Columbus' top pairing and first power-play unit. Combine that with his offensive talents, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him surpass the 40-point milestone for the fifth time in eight years. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a six-year, $57.5 million contract extension with the Blue Jackets in July of 2021.
Two goals in win
DColumbus Blue Jackets
February 22, 2024
Werenski scored a pair of goals in Wednesday's 7-4 win over the Ducks.
ANALYSIS
Werenski opened the scoring 3:32 into the first period, swatting a puck out of the air past John Gibson before adding a second tally later in the frame. The 26-year-old Werenski has three goals and eight points in nine outings since his return from a 10-game absence with an ankle sprain. He's up to 33 points (four goals, 29 assists) through 43 games this season while averaging 24:18 of ice time on Columbus' top defensive pairing.
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NHL Stats
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2023–24 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    24:17
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    2:58
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    1:24
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2021–22
25:40
3:13
1:33
2022–23
23:36
3:04
0:58
2023–24
24:17
2:58
1:24
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Blue Jackets Power Play Depth Chart
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2022
2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
Werenski managed to finish with a career-best 48 points despite missing 14 of Columbus' 82 regular-season games in 2021-22. His 3:13 worth of power-play time per night was nearly 30 seconds more than any other prior year, and his 216 hits and 95 blocks were also new high-water marks. Werenski led the NHL in goals by a defenseman two seasons ago with 20 in just 63 games, so his offensive abilities are clearly legitimate. The Blue Jackets surprisingly were able to add Johnny Gaudreau as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, massively improving the potential of the team's power play and thus giving a significant bump to Werenski's fantasy value in 2022-23.
Werenski led the NHL in goals among defensemen (20 in 63 games) two seasons ago, but he, like most of his teammates, took a step backwards (7 goals, 20 points in 35 games) last year. Werenski also missed the latter part of the campaign with a sports hernia injury that eventually required surgery. Not deterred by the injury nor the dip in production, Columbus gave Werenski a whopping six-year, $57.5 million contract this summer. It ties Werenski to the Jackets through the 2027-28 season. With Seth Jones -- who refused to sign an extension -- dealt to Chicago, Werenski is Columbus' unquestioned No.1 defender and the 24-year-old Michigan native will be given every opportunity to pile up points in 2021-22. Werenski remains a strong early-round target.
Werenski had another strong season in 2019-20, leading all defensemen with 20 goals while adding 21 assists, 13 power-play points and 187 shots on goal in 63 contests. The 23-year-old American is locked into a spot on Columbus' top pairing and first power-play unit, and although he likely won't be able to replicate his 10.7 shooting percentage from last season in 2020-21, he'll still be a lock for a double-digit goal, 40-plus point pace while averaging over two shots on net per contest. Werenski should be considered a top-15 option among defensemen heading into the upcoming campaign.
Among active NHL defensemen, only Aaron Ekblad tallied more goals by his age-21 season than Werenski's 38, and Ekblad has a one-season head start, debuting at 18 instead of 19. Now a grizzled 22, Werenski has been a power-play stalwart for the Blue Jackets ever since he stepped on the ice, combining slick passing and excellent vision with an uncanny knack for getting his point shot through traffic and behind the goalie. He's also worked hard to develop the rest of his game, although last year's minus-12 rating was a step backwards from his first two seasons. Seth Jones is the unquestioned top dog on the Columbus blue line thanks to his all-around ability, but Werenski is the blueliner with highest pure offensive ceiling, and his best days remain ahead of him.
A lingering shoulder injury that eventually required offseason surgery prevented Werenski from building on his impressive rookie performance, but the 21-year-old was still able to make an impact with a career-high 16 goals. When he's healthy, he's a dynamic power-play quarterback and offensive threat at even strength, showing excellent passing skills and hockey IQ with a shot from the point that has an uncanny knack for finding its way through traffic. Werenski isn't a one-dimensional attacking player, though -- he's registered positive plus-minus ratings in both his NHL seasons and provides a calm, efficient presence in his own end. He's not as physical as his blue-line partner Seth Jones, but he doesn't need to be. His recovery from surgery could linger into the regular season and cause a slow start, but once he's 100 percent expect Werenski to enjoy a breakout campaign.
Werenski was a revelation as a teenager in his NHL debut last season, immediately stepping into the Blue Jackets lineup as their top offensive weapon on the blue line while holding his own as a defender. The eighth overall pick in 2015 displayed great vision and passing ability on the attack, as well as an uncanny knack for getting his shot through traffic from the point, and his presence was one of the key ingredients in a revitalized Columbus power play through the early part of the season. Expectations will be sky-high for the burgeoning superstar in 2017-18, but his talent and supporting cast should allow him to avoid a sophomore slump and top the 50-point mark.
More Fantasy News
Buries goal Saturday
DColumbus Blue Jackets
February 18, 2024
Werenski scored a goal on five shots and blocked three shots in Saturday's 4-3 win over the Sharks.
ANALYSIS
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Assists in consecutive outings
DColumbus Blue Jackets
January 27, 2024
Werenski produced a power-play assist and two shots on goal in Saturday's 5-4 overtime loss to the Canucks.
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Earns helper in return
DColumbus Blue Jackets
January 25, 2024
Werenski notched an assist, two shots on goal, two blocked shots and a plus-3 rating in Thursday's 5-2 win over the Flames.
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Ready to rock
DColumbus Blue Jackets
January 25, 2024
Werenski (ankle) has been activated off injured reserve and will return to the lineup Thursday versus Calgary, Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reports.
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Closing in on return
DColumbus Blue Jackets
Ankle
January 22, 2024
Werenski (ankle) isn't expected to play Tuesday versus Edmonton, but he could return to action as soon as Thursday against the Flames, Jeff Svoboda of the Blue Jackets' official site reports.
ANALYSIS
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