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With Trouba signing will CBJ sign Werenski soon?

July 23, 2019, 9:20 AM ET [4 Comments]
Thomas Townsend
Columbus Blue Jackets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
This summer teams are playing a high stakes game of chicken with RFA blueliners (as well as other high profile RFAs). It seems that the Rangers are the first to blink. They agreed to a 7-year $56M contract with Trouba. How that impacts the RFA defensman market has yet to be seen as McAvoy, Werenski and Provorov remain unsigned. This deal should set the price for the rest to work from. How does this shape Werenski's negotiations and how does he compare with Trouba?

Jacob Trouba is 25-years old, stands 6'3" and is listed at 203 lbs. His NHL career started in 2013 spanning 6 years and 408 games. In that time he has amassed 179 points and 297 penalty minutes. He averages 68 games per season, 7 goals and 23 assists. Year-over-year that average has held steady until this past season when he saw an increase in points (50) and assists (42). That increase was triggered by more power play points which increased to 18 from an average of 4.

Zach Werenski is 22-years old, stands 6'2" and is listed at 209 lbs. He has 3 NHL seasons to his credit in which he has played 237 games. He has collected 128 points (38 of them goals) and 48 penalty minutes. On average he has played 79 games per season with 12 goals and 30 assists. His stats have stayed steady across all three seasons, which have all resulted in playoff appearances. He has had injuries, but not that have seen him miss regular season time. He was hit by a puck during the playoffs that ended his season and permanently scarred his face as well as suffered through a shoulder injury that required surgery. Who knows how much that injury impacted his play.

Both players have seen playoff action with Werenski playing in 19 games scoring 10 points and Trouba skating in 27 games with 6 points.

However, the measure of an NHL defensmen isn't always seen in their stat line. In fact, most of an NHL defensmen's worth cannot be measured by a stat line, just remember how impactful Savard was in TBL and BOS playoff series in the spring.

Werenski plays top line minutes and thrives. The one troubling area is +/- which was -12 in 2019. We can debate the validity of +/- as a stat but, the fact is that he was on the ice at even strength for 12 more goals against than goals for in 2019. Over 82 games that doesn't seem like a large number, but considering the prior two seasons he had a positive +/- it is a significant swing. This could mean that he was facing tougher match ups, spent more time on ice or be an indicator of his defensive partner or the center that was on the ice with him. It is a hard stat for a player to control, but it points to how well he works together with his team, or at least that is what it is meant to indicate.

In conclusion the comparison with Trouba is favorable to Zach. He is a few years younger, similar build, scores more points and plays top line minutes. All of these things sound very good for the CBJ, except that the comparison is for contract purposes. Given all the things said above it looks as if Columbus is going to have to pony up $8M+ per year on a 7 or 8 year contract. That is significantly more than the $5.4M per year that Seth Jones makes. It does give the Jackets stability and security on the back end for years to come. It is slightly more than half the cap space the Jackets have left. Given that he is the last remaining piece of the roster for this season that isn't bad.

Looking forward to next off-season the CBJ will need to sign PLD, Josh Anderson and two goalies (both Korpi and Elvis are on 1-year deals). Gavrikov is also on a 1-year deal, but we have seen only a very small sample of his skills in the NHL. He could command a large contract or not, depending on his contributions this season.

With the Trouba signing and his comparable play to Werenski, the Jackets should end the suspense and sign Zach, locking him up for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for reading.
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