There are several high quality defensemen available in the 2015 draft but there’s a range of opinion about the ‘best available’ at the position. Noah Hanifin remains the likely ‘first defenseman off the board’ but the Russian Prokorov has a lot of momentum as we head toward spring. The other name you hear about in the range of the top five overall? Zach Werenski.
— ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) March 12, 2015
NHL teams love defensemen who possess a range of skills and who can play a consistent, reliable game. Werenski’s ability to do that, despite being a very young player in a man’s league (NCAA players can be 23 or 24, or older) is one of his key’s to success.
Coach Red Berenson: “He’s a young player who just plays more consistently than most
young players. You take most freshmen and
they have trouble bringing it every night and every game, and he’s not
one of those.” Source
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) February 18, 2015
Sean Lafortune, McKeen’s: A slick, mobile defender who plays a pressing offensive style.
Accelerated his schooling in order to attend the University of Michigan
as a 17-year old, which is a rarity. Already seeing prime ice time,
including top powerplay minutes and a regular top four shift with
Florida Panthers prospect Michael Downing. Strong puck handler and a
resourceful, heads up puck mover. Eats up the ice with an effortless and
powerful stride. Source
Chris Dilks, SB Nation: Werenski has all the physical tools to be a great defenseman at the next
level. He’s listed at 6-2 214 lbs and that measurement appears pretty
fair. The 214 lbs. may be a little generous, but that may just be
because Werenski moves like a player much smaller than 214 lbs. He’s
tremendously light on his feet for a bigger defenseman, which gives him
good mobility in all four directions. He’s especially quick moving
laterally. He hasn’t been overwhelmed by his more physically mature
competition. There’s still occasions when he will lose a physical battle
along the boards, but has a pretty good average in those types of
WHERE WILL HE GO?
Werenski is getting lost a little among draft observers but I doubt NHL teams have trouble identifying him as one of the 10 best options available. It appears there is in fact a little clearance between Noah Hanifin and Werenski, enough (probably) for Ivan Provorov to slip in between them.
He is very likely to go inside the Top 10 if things remain the same now through draft day. He might end up being the best defenseman in the draft but the experts appear to see him as the No. 3 option among defensemen. The 2015 draft is beginning to look somewhat similar to the 2008 watershed that included Drew Doughty, Zack Bogosian and Alex Pietrangelo.