Jason Brough

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 18:  Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets keeps control of the puck away from Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers during the first period on November 18, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Werenski learning the rigors of an NHL schedule


If Zach Werenski were still at the University of Michigan, he’d have played about half the number of games he’s played this season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The 19-year-old defenseman is quickly learning that all those additional games — against big, strong NHLers to boot — can be an adjustment for the body.

“I was told at the beginning of the year there would be days when you are tired, days when you are beat up,” Werenski told the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s part of being a pro. I’ve never played this many games in a short amount of time. Each game is hard, each game is physical. It’s the best league in the world for a reason.”

A quarter of the way through the season, Werenski is a strong candidate for the Calder Trophy. His 15 points (5G, 10A) are tops among rookie defenseman, and he’s helped turn the Blue Jackets’ power play into a lethal unit.

But it will be interesting to see how he progresses as the season wears on. His coach, John Tortorella, is famous for riding his top players. Monday against Colorado, Werenski logged 25:04 in a 3-2 overtime defeat. Two days later, it was 23:22 in a 2-0 loss to Calgary.

The Jackets (10-5-3) have three games left in November, starting tonight in Tampa Bay. Their December is going to be a serious slog, with 14 games in 31 days.

The Wolverines, meanwhile, only have six games in December, with a nice long break for Christmas.

Welcome to the NHL, Zach.

No ‘first-termers’ need apply: Golden Knights looking for an experienced head coach

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13:  George McPhee (L) and majority owner of the Las Vegas NHL franchise Bill Foley take questions from members of the media after Foley announced McPhee as the team's general manager during a news conference at T-Mobile Arena on July 13, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Whoever the Vegas Golden Knights name as their first head coach in franchise history, hockey fans will probably know the name.

That was the only clue the team’s owner, Bill Foley, would provide Wednesday on the Prime Time Sports radio show, adding that general manager George McPhee has “a list of six or seven candidates” for the position.

“He’s not looking for a first-termer,” said Foley. “Some may or may not be available. … I would say the coach that we name is going to be a recognizable individual.”

Foley didn’t list any names, for obvious reasons. But just to throw a few out there: Bob Hartley, Kevin Dineen, and Ralph Krueger. And if the Boston Bruins miss the playoffs for a third straight year, Claude Julien could certainly become available.

“The coaching situation will probably not resolve itself until after the regular season,” said Foley.

Related: Vegas owner wants a ‘younger-oriented team’

Flames call up Jankowski, their first-round pick in 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: Mark Jankowski, 21st overall pick by the Calgary Flames, speaks to media during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames have called up forward Mark Jankowski from the AHL’s Stockton Heat.

Yes, the same Mark Jankowski that former assistant GM John Weisbrod once compared to Joe Nieuwendyk.

Jankowski has three goals and nine assists in 13 games for the Heat. This is his first full season as a professional, after spending four years at Providence College.

Read more: Flames sign Jankowski, who was ‘very much a project’ when he was drafted

A first-round pick of the Flames in 2012, Jankowski could have become a free agent this summer, a la Jimmy Vesey. But despite the opportunity, he saw no reason to sign elsewhere.

“Honestly, there was no looking around,” he told the Calgary Sun in March.

The Flames play tonight in Boston, but Jankowski is not expected to draw into the lineup. Their next game is Sunday in Philadelphia, and then they finish their road trip Monday in Brooklyn.

Pre-game reading: On Patrick Sharp’s scary concussion experience

1 Comment

— Up top, does Artemi Panarin ever score an ugly goal? Another beauty one-timer last night in San Jose, albeit in a losing effort.

Patrick Sharp on his latest concussion: “Most injuries you can circle a date, but the injury I suffered was a day-to-day thing I thought I had experienced in the past, but never quite like this. … The type of injury that I had, you hear some scary stories from around the league. … I’m thankful I was able to come out of it and feel healthy and strong.” (Dallas Morning News)

— Following the unveiling of the Vegas Golden Knights, the Hockey News takes a look at the top 10 expansion logos of the modern NHL era. The winner? The Vegas Golden Knights, apparently. (Hockey News)

Martin Hanzal is a very important part of the Arizona Coyotes, both as a player and rode model for the team’s many youngsters. But the big center is also a pending UFA who’s had his name bandied about in trade rumors. So his situation is definitely worth monitoring. The Coyotes are already seven points out of a playoff spot. If they don’t re-sign him, you have to think they’ll trade him before March 1. (Arizona Republic)

— What’s it like to be the first NHL goalie from Denmark? The story of Frederik Andersen, who’s rebounded nicely after a tough start for his new team in Toronto. (Canadian Press)

Matthew Benning has some solid NHL bloodlines. His father, Brian, played over 500 games in the league as a defenseman. His uncle, Jim, was an NHL d-man too, and is currently the GM of the Vancouver Canucks. Now it’s Matthews’ turn to play — and play pretty well, apparently — as a rookie defenseman for the Edmonton Oilers. The 22-year-old was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins, but opted not to sign with them, due in part to all the young d-men in their system. (Edmonton Journal)

— TSN’s stats guy, Travis Yost, asks the question: Why has Joe Thornton stopped shooting the puck? To which we’d like to know: When did he ever start? (TSN)

Tweet of the Day

OK, fine, that was an old tweet, but Hutton signed a contract extension today, so you know he’s gonna bust out some moves.

Enjoy the games!

Horvat making big strides for Vancouver

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 01:  Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates his goal to tie the score 1-1 against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center on April 1, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

At the 2013 NHL draft, the Vancouver Canucks sent one of the best goalies in the world, Cory Schneider, to New Jersey for the right to select Bo Horvat ninth overall.

Suffice to say, it was a big price for the Canucks to pay. Schneider has been excellent for the Devils, and there have certainly been days when Vancouver could’ve used him.

But more and more these days, Horvat is making Canucks fans feel better about that trade. The 21-year-old center had a goal and two assists in last night’s win over the Coyotes. With the three points, he found himself tied with Daniel Sedin for the most on the Canucks (13).

Among NHL centers, Horvat is right there in the company of some pretty good ones:


It’s not just his points either. In Horvat, the Canucks see a two-way center with the potential to dominate at both ends of the ice.

“To me, Bo should be able to play against the other team’s top center,” said Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, per the Vancouver Sun. “He’s big and strong and he’s good on draws, but to do that, he’s got to be a little better defensively. That’s a role I see him playing. And a lot of times, the other team’s top lines aren’t great defensively and that’s where he can score, too. I see him able to do both.”

The coach is right that Horvat still has things to learn defensively. He got a crash course last season when Brandon Sutter got hurt, and it was a real struggle at times. Horvat finished with a minus-30 rating, almost the lowest in the league.

But at the same time, Horvat showed flashes of brilliance offensively, his bursts of speed proving a handful for defensemen in one-on-one situations.

And to think, skating was once considered his major weakness. Not anymore.

Read more: Canucks lock up Ben Hutton for two more years

To be sure, Horvat still has a ways to go if he’s ever going to legitimately replace Henrik Sedin on the Canucks’ first line. He is not yet an elite puck distributor, and that’s another thing he’ll have to work on. More passes like the one he made last night to Sven Baertschi and he might really turn into something: