Seventy degrees and sunny is the outlook for Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski as he is headed to the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida this Sunday, January 28. Werenski will get the nod to replace teammate Seth Jones, who withdrew due to illness. This will be the first NHL All-Star game appearance by the 20-year-old Grosse Pointe, Michigan native.
In the first half of the season, Werenski recorded 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points with 12 penalty minutes and a +2 plus/minus rating. He leads Columbus defensemen in goals and is ranked second in points. Trailing only Central Division captain P.K. Subban, he ranks second in the league among defenseman with 11 goals. He’s also one goal away from tying Columbus’s franchise single-season record for goals by a defenseman (Bryan Berard, 2005-06; Seth Jones, 2016-17).
Selected eighth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Blue Jackets, he finished third in Calder Trophy voting after leading league rookie defensemen in goals, assists and points and rookie skaters in plus/minus and power play assists. He set the Blue Jackets rookie record for assists and points (previously held by current New York Ranger, Rick Nash) and recorded the second-most points by a defenseman in a single season in club history while tallying the sixth-most points by a teenage defenseman in his rookie season in NHL history, per NHL.com.
You might remember him best from the 2016 playoffs when he took a shot to the face against the Pittsburgh Penguins, left the ice leaving a trail of blood and then returned to the game.
Blue Jackets’ Zach Werenski took a puck to the face, returned to the ice later in the game
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 17, 2017
The 2015 NHL Draft birthed the Connor McDavid era, coupled by a sensational depth in prospects that are well represented throughout the League. With much hype surrounding the likes of McDavid (EDM) and Jack Eichel (BUF), Werenski has slipped under the radar as a point-producing workhorse for the Blue Jackets, proving he belongs among some of the NHL’s most successful blueliners.
Catch Werenski in the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game on NBC at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, January 28.
(Main photo credit:Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)