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Werenski breaks franchise rookie points record

Jackets defenseman now owns the franchise rookie season points record

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL / BlueJackets.com

Behind The Battle: Werenski Story

Behind The Battle Episode 5: Werenski's Journey

Behind The Battle Episode 5: Werenski's Journey

  • 06:11 •

At 17:05 in Friday's game against the Buffalo Sabres, Zach Werenski set the record for the most points scored by any Blue Jackets rookie in franchise history (9-31-40) and he did it in eight fewer games than the previous record-holder, Rick Nash, who had 17 goals and 22 assists during the 2002-03 season.

The record breaking point came on the Jackets' first power play of the night when, from the point, Werenski passed to Alexander Wennberg who fed Nick Foligno for the Jackets' second goal of the night.

It was just another moment in an incredible inaugural season for 19-year-old from Michigan who was selected eighth overall by the Jackets in the 2015 Draft.

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"We gave him the job and he took it and executed right through it," assistant coach Brad Shaw said. "He's really filled a hole for us as a team. I'm not sure where we'd be without him. He's a real integral part of our success." 

Werenski has wasted no time showing the NHL what he can do. He scored his first point, a secondary assist, on the first goal of the Jackets' season and has been the quarterback of the first power play unit through all 63 games.

Werenski scored nine of his goals and eleven assists when the Jackets have the man advantage.

Video: STL@CBJ: Werenski smokes a power-play goal in the 3rd

"His skating and his vision allow him to lead that unit," Shaw said. "He has a great built-in confidence level that all the great players I've been around seem to have, and to do it at his age is probably one of the more remarkable things about him. I was shocked by how he took a lot of difficult situations and made them look easy."

Shaw describes Werenski's innate ability to always keep his head up as well as his desire to make a difference every play as assets not just for the player, but as an example to his teammates.

And while a points record obviously focuses on the offensive side of the game, Werenski is a defenseman first, and the team has had no reservation putting him out against opponents' top players.

According to datarink.com, through the first 63 games in 5-on-5 play, Werenski allowed the fourth lowest shot attempts against per 60 minutes (51.7). And his shot attempts for percentage (53.4) is not just the best among all Jackets' defensemen, it's second on the team only to Brandon Saad of all Jackets who have played 15 games or more this year.

"When he's at his best there's a physical element to his game where he's making guys pay a price when they have the puck," Shaw said. "That's something that is going to develop and be more consistent as he gets older, and there are so many things that are going to get better with his game."

Video: SJS@CBJ: Werenski snipes first NHL goal on power play

The potential of what Werenski will do in his career is perhaps more exciting that what he's achieved thus far. With the Jackets in the midst of their post-season push, while the rookie scoring record is special, it's likely to be more fully celebrated later.

"Most of those personal accolades they're nice but they're not the focal point of why you're playing the game or why you're in the industry in the first place," Shaw said. "(Werenski) is just such a great team-based guy, I don't think it will phase him one bit. He'll shake some hands and smile a couple times and move on and get ready for the next game.

"He's 60-some games in, overall you start projecting things out and you get pretty excited about what's going to happen."

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