What does the next breakout season for a defenseman look like who had nearly 50 points in their rookie year?
Norris Trophy contention? Most points amongst all league defenseman? The way that Zach Werenski is speaking right now, there's nothing too out-of-reach for the (still young) Columbus Blue Jacket blue-liner.
"I had (during the playoffs) that confidence where 'I'm playing my best hockey right now, I can go out against the best players in the world and play defensively'," Werenski told Nick Cotsonika of NHL.com. "I've told myself that how I played in the playoffs is how I want to play as a player in this league."
What did playoff Werenski actually look like, if he wants to strive to be him so badly?
Six points in ten games, for starters, which was good to be the fifth-highest scorer on the club in the playoffs. His 26:37 ice time per game was nearly four more minutes more than he was averaging during the regular season, and his blocked shots and hits also doubled in postseason play.
If that prophecy comes true, the Blue Jackets are serious contenders for having the top defensive pairing in the entire NHL, between Werenski and Seth Jones.
"I've told myself that how I played in the playoffs is how I want to play as a player in this league."
"I think in the playoffs I felt comfortable going out there against (Nikita) Kucherov, (Steve) Stamkos and (Brayden) Point." continued Werenski. I felt confident I had the ability to shut them down."
Werenski is one of the highest-scoring young players in Blue Jacket franchise history, and his value to the club as a defenseman and an overall playmaker was made known in these most recent playoffs.
As the Blue Jackets look to recover from the blow of losing four big unrestricted free agents this summer, Werenski will be counted on to make his presence on the team (and in the league) known more and more.
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