Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski has been named to his 2nd NHL All-Star Game.
The 24-year old has taken another step in his development in 2021-22, his first year as the club's no-doubt number-one defenseman after long-term partner Seth Jones was traded in the off-season.
NEWS: #CBJ defenseman Zach Werenski has been named to his 2nd NHL All-Star Game which will be played on February 5 in Las Vegas. He made his All-Star Game debut in 2018 in Tampa.— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) January 13, 2022
RW Jakub Voracek is on the Last Men In ballot for the game.https://t.co/CnG6DtEMTt
Brad Larsen was complimentary of his star defenseman, calling him an "elite" defenseman.
#CBJ coach Brad Larsen on Zach Werenski's All-Star selection: "Thrilled for him. He's deserving for sure for the amount of ice time that were asking from him. It's a great opportunity for him to show his skill set at the All-Star Game. ... He's an elite defenseman"— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) January 14, 2022
That claim would be difficult to refute. From a usage standpoint, Werenski is tasked with playing against the opposition's best players on a nightly basis. He's third in the NHL in average TOI, clocking a staggering 26:18 per night. His 6-15-21 stat-line ties him for 23rd in the NHL in scoring among defensemen, despite having the lowest shooting percentage of his career (5.8%). All that while playing primarily alongside Jake Bean, who's been punching way above his weight class in terms of quality of competition.
Per Evolving-Hockey, Werenski's age 21-23 seasons most closely resembles that of Roman Josi, a perennial Norris Trophy candidate. Per CapFriendly, he has the t-55th most expensive cap hit among NHL defensemen, earning $5M per season. And Per The Athletic's player cards, created by Shayna Goldman and Dom Luszczyszyn, Werenski's market value this year is $7M. His goals and points projection (in yellow, below) put him in 'Star' territory, which checks out.
Werenski joins a Metropolitan Division All-Star defense alongside the New York Islanders' Adam Pelech and New York Rangers' Adam Fox, the reigning Norris Trophy-winner.
All-Star Teams:— Puck Update (@puck_update) January 14, 2022
Frederik Andersen (#LetsGoCanes)
Sebastian Aho (#LetsGoCanes)
Zach Werenski (#CBJ)
Jack Hughes (#NJDevils)
Adam Pelech (#Isles)
Adam Fox (#NYR)
Chris Kreider (#NYR)
Claude Giroux (#BringItToBroad)
Tristan Jarry (#LetsGoPens)
C: Alex Ovechkin (#ALLCAPS)
Werenski is exactly what the Blue Jackets had hoped he would become when he was drafted with the 8th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft - a franchise, number one defenseman on a long-term contract. And now, for the second time, he'll represent the organization at the All-Star Game, Feb 5 in Las Vegas.