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.