Is Zach Werenski a Calder Trophy candidate? And could he regress after his strong rookie season?
He is on pace for a 58-point season. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal says that he should be the Calder Trophy winner this season. The player is not Auston Matthews. Nor Patrik Laine.
Who is he? Well he is defenseman Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He is currently tied for fourth in rookie scoring, only behind Laine, Matthews and Mitch Marner and equal to William Nylander.
Here are some of the reasons Matheson directs your attention towards as to why Werenski should win rookie of the year honors.
“… defense is infinitely harder as a rookie. Mistakes are magnified. Werenski, who’s starting to get targeted now with teams hitting him hard, doesn’t make many. He’s awfully calm with the puck,” writes Matheson.
His coach John Tortorella says “I look at how this kid thinks the game, how mature mentally he is now (19 years old). Defense is the engine of our club,” and, “He’s just a helluva player. He’s a man-child (6-foot-2, 209 pounds). I don’t think there’s a limit to what he can do.”
Further on in the article he is compared to Alex Pietrangelo, and we are told that he has similarities to Scott Niedermayer, loves Drew Doughty’s ice presence, and that he studied how Niklas Lidstom played the game while he was at school in Michigan.
His general manager John Davidson, tells us that, “He comes from a grounded family”, “he’s a rink rat, he’s zero maintenance” but most of all, “All I’ll say is if you get a Pietrangelo or a Niedermayer (or a Doughty) on your team… guys who are in the upper echelon at their position, those are franchise players for you.”
This is excellent stuff. I will even add to it with some statistics.
His 20 points right now places him tied for 59th of all rookie defensemen performances since the 2005-06 season. I will reiterate that he has only played 28 games so far. He can cl