There are several high quality defensemen available in the 2015 draft but there’s a range of opinion about the ‘best available’ at the position. Noah Hanifin remains the likely ‘first defenseman off the board’ but the Russian Prokorov has a lot of momentum as we head toward spring. The other name you hear about in the range of the top five overall? Zach Werenski.

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NHL teams love defensemen who possess a range of skills and who can play a consistent, reliable game. Werenski’s ability to do that, despite being a very young player in a man’s league (NCAA players can be 23 or 24, or older) is one of his key’s to success.

  • Coach Red Berenson: “He’s a young player who just plays more consistently than most
    young players. You take most freshmen and
    they have trouble bringing it every night and every game, and he’s not
    one of those.” 


  • Sean Lafortune, McKeen’s: A slick, mobile defender who plays a pressing offensive style.
    Accelerated his schooling in order to attend the University of Michigan
    as a 17-year old, which is a rarity. Already seeing prime ice time,
    including top powerplay minutes and a regular top four shift with
    Florida Panthers prospect Michael Downing. Strong puck handler and a
    resourceful, heads up puck mover. Eats up the ice with an effortless and
    powerful stride. Source
  • Chris Dilks, SB Nation: Werenski has all the physical tools to be a great defenseman at the next
    level. He’s listed at 6-2 214 lbs and that measurement appears pretty
    fair. The 214 lbs. may be a little generous, but that may just be
    because Werenski moves like a player much smaller than 214 lbs. He’s
    tremendously light on his feet for a bigger defenseman, which gives him
    good mobility in all four directions.  He’s especially quick moving
    laterally. He hasn’t been overwhelmed by his more physically mature
    competition. There’s still occasions when he will lose a physical battle
    along the boards, but has a pretty good average in those types of
    one-on-one battles.
  • Source


Werenski is getting lost a little among draft observers but I doubt NHL teams have trouble identifying him as one of the 10 best options available. It appears there is in fact a little clearance between Noah Hanifin and Werenski, enough (probably) for Ivan Provorov to slip in between them.

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He is very likely to go inside the Top 10 if things remain the same now through draft day. He might end up being the best defenseman in the draft but the experts appear to see him as the No. 3 option among defensemen. The 2015 draft is beginning to look somewhat similar to the 2008 watershed that included Drew Doughty, Zack Bogosian and Alex Pietrangelo.

  • kab

    “NHL teams love defensemen who possess a range of skills and who can play a consistent, reliable game. Werenski’s ability to do that, despite being a very young player in a man’s league (NCAA players can be 23 or 24, or older) is one of his key’s to success. ”

    Problem is the oilers hate those guys. Where are our plugs who hit and block shots? Or Jultz and Hunt for some reason.

  • kab

    Thanks Lowetide! I’m not sure when it happened but I’m more a fan of all the off ice things the Oilers are doing (or should be doing) than the actual on ice performance. I hope that changes real soon. Thanks for keeping us all interested! I swear you all should be on the Oilers payroll.

    What is a realistic off-season for the Oilers? Assume they pick 3rd, they are willing to trade their 2nd round pick and Niemi has no interest in signing here.

  • kab

    I’m not saying that good defensemen come from the NCAA, ton of them do, but this team doesn’t trust them. They’re usually less physical, or atleast the ones we draft or pick up are.

    The only big, fast, high ceiling defensemen I trust come from the WHL.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    if the Oilers were to somehow end up picking 5th (can they still do this?), then if they decided that, say, Mitch Marner wasn’t for them, trade down a few spots and take RD Werenski if that’s what they want to do? problem is, if the Oilers do pick #5 and don’t want Marner, they’ll just take LD Ivan Provorov. they seem to like this guy a lot!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I would be very happy with all 3 defenceman after Connor and Eichel.After goaltending our biggest need is defense.Draft and develop it is the only way small market oilers will get top 4 defenceman.The only thing is let Bob Green make the picks not Lowe or Mct or Howson

  • Armchair_Gm

    I’m a Dallas fan and I hope this is the dude we take. Provorov is probably better but I dont think he would fall to us. Jim Nill has said he wants a bigger dman who can play 25 a night

  • Armchair_Gm

    At this point we know that the Oilers will pick in the Top 4, and then not again until 25th or so, so we should be focusing on 4, because everybody knows who 1 and 2 are for everybody, and who Number 3 is for a team that desperately needs a top D prospect, Noah Hanifin. In the not unlikely event that the OIlers pick 4th, that is where D men like Werenski and Provorov come in as slight long shots, versus the best remaining forward prospects like Strome. Frankly I will be shattered if we don’t pick Top 3. I will now go back to praying for the Coyotes not to tank too hard.

  • bwar

    He looked better than Hanafin at the world juniors. I really hope Oiler’s manage to trade a few picks to move up in the first round to about 10th to grab a guy like Werenski.