Even with the recent increase league-wide in offensively-talented defensemen, it's not unusual for a d-man, because of positioning and back-end responsibilities, to have droughts between goals.
However, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman, Zach Werenski, has defied that notion in his recent hot streak.
In the Blue Jackets' last three games, Werenski has three goals. All three have been impressive, too, either in terms of game situation or opposing goalie. The most-impressive goal of the streak may be Werenski's 2-2 goal against esteemed Montreal goaltender, Carey Price.
With his last 3-2 overtime, game-winning goal against St. Louis, Werenski solidified his spot in second place in the Blue Jackets' goal-scoring race. If Pierre-Luc Dubois had not also scored in the 3-2 win over the Blues, the two players would be tied for the team lead.
Having a defenseman with such a scoring prowess means many things for a hockey club, positive and negative. So let's examine what this means as it applies to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Above all else, the team has an elite goal-scoring defenseman who more than likely, because of his young age, hasn't yet reached his potential. Werenski, only 22 years-old, possesses both puck moving and shooting abilities any NHL team would covet.
And the Blue Jackets' elite defenseman don't stop with Werenski, of course, as the the roster also sports Seth Jones. While any team would love to have a Werenski, it is the special combination of both players that really allows for Werenski to shine. As Jones is a better all-around defenseman, he not only can cover defensive responsibilities when Werenski jumps into the rush and but also, having offensive ability as well, can dish the puck to Werenski for opportune scoring chances.
Zach Werenski's current goal-scoring pace is also unprecedented in the Blue Jackets' history. The young defenseman is currently on pace to score 26 goals this season, which would shatter the previous d-man record of 16 (set by Werenski and Jones two years ago).
That many goals would put Werenski in elite company. Since 2000, only 22 defenseman have scored more than 20 goals in a season. Only 5 have scored 26 or above.
Let's get it out of the way: if one of your top goal-scorers is defenseman, it probably says more about your forward group than the defenseman in question. This statement definitely applies to the current state of the Columbus Blue Jackets whose forward core has struggled to score this season.
Let's take a look at the sample examined above, the last three games.
The most recent goal scorers for the Blue Jackets:— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) November 16, 2019
Zach Werenski (2)
Folks. Thats a major problem. #CBJ
This tweet does not include Pierre-Luc Dubois' 2-2 goal or Werenski's overtime winner against St. Louis, but the point still stands. The only NHL veteran contributing to scoring right now is the young defenseman, Werenski, which does not bode well for the Blue Jackets.
Cam Atkinson, 3 goals, has been absent from the score sheet, his last goal came October 24th against Carolina. He is still yet to score a goal at 5-on-5 this season.
Josh Anderson, though absent with an injury a few games early, has only one goal in 13 contests.
And Alexander Wennberg, after a very promising start, only has one point in 10 games since October 24th.
Its great news to have a young defenseman score at an elite pace, but if he is the only consistent, offensive threat for the Blue Jackets, it will be a long rest of the season. The veterans in the forward core need to step up to make sure Werenski's scoring clip is not wasted on a losing team.