#8 / Defenseman
Height: 6’2” | Weight: 209 | Born: July 19, 1997
Birthplace: Grosse Pointe, MI, USA | Acquired: Drafted 8th overall, 2015 (Columbus)
Assets: Owns the size scouts love from the blueline position at the National Hockey League level, plus excellent offensive acumen. Is a natural with the puck on his blade. Can be a factor on the power play, as well.
Flaws: Could stand to be more aggressive to fully take advantage of his imposing size, but he must also continue to improve his play when he does not have the puck to maximize his vast NHL potential.
Career Potential: Talented, mobile offensive defenseman with upside.
(Via The Hockey News)
Why You Should Know Who He Is: He was the third defenseman taken in the 2015 NHL draft, behind only Noah Hanifin and Ivan Provorov, and arguably had the most impressive rookie campaign of the bunch, as he ended up a finalist for the 2017 Calder Award. He and nightly partner on the blue line Seth Jones are the Jackets’ big ice-time hogs, and will shoulder the bulk of the unenviable responsibility of putting the tamp on the Caps’ big guns. It’s worth noting that Werenski put up some eye-popping numbers in both possession and production (54.2 CF% and 57.3 GF%), with Jones’s numbers nearly identical. If the Caps can win the battle when this guy is on the ice, it’s going to go a long way towards advancement.
How the Caps Can Stop Him: Tough to say, really, since this isn’t a kosher option:
Werenski is entering the playoffs on the cusp of a bang-up season that’s cemented his credibility as a top-pair defenseman. It’s likely going to come down to Barry Trotz getting a read on how the matchups are going in the early goings, and adjusting quickly to get his high-octane guys some looks away from Werenski if they’re spending too much time in their own zone, which is exactly what Werenski has effectively accomplished all year long.