Columbus knew it had a special talent in d-man Zach Werenski and, accordingly, had high expectations of him coming into this season.
Werenski hasn’t just met those expectations through the first two months of his NHL career. It’s fair to say he’s exceeded them.
From the league:
Werenski, who led rookie blueliners and shared third place among all first-year players with 3-7—10 in 14 games, has been named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November.
Werenski edged Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (7-2-0, 2.02 GAA, .929 SV%, 1 SO), Toronto Maple Leafs center Mitchell Marner (6-7—13 in 14 GP), Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (7-4—11 in 16 GP), Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (3-7—10 in 14 GP) and New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (0-9—9 in 15 GP) for the honor.
Werenski, the eighth overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, registered at least one point in eight of his 14 appearances, including a pair of two-assist efforts to open the month (Nov. 1 vs. DAL and Nov. 4 vs. MTL). He also scored the overtime winner Nov. 9 vs. ANA, becoming the first rookie defenseman in franchise history to achieve the feat.
This is shaping up to be a potentially historic rookie class. Two other prized freshmen — Toronto’s William Nylander and Auston Matthews — are very much in the Calder Trophy mix, while the likes of Jimmy Vesey, Travis Konecny, Sebastian Aho, Brayden Point and Matthew Tkachuk are also having impressive seasons as well.