Columbus Blue Jackets: Could Zach Werenski Play Forward?

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 11: Zach Werenski
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 11: Zach Werenski /

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a very offensive-minded defensive corps, which can lead to some difficulties in terms of defensive positioning. While it’s not a realistic expectation, could Zach Werenski theoretically succeed at forward?

The Columbus Blue Jackets have built one of the best young defensive corps in the NHL, however at the same time, scoring appears to be at a premium. One of the most productive players on the offensive side of the ice has been defenseman Zach Werenski. Werenski’s uber-offensive style of play has led to some questionable positioning on some odd-man rushes by the opposing team, however would playing him at forward be a realistic possibility?

A note before we continue, this is by no means a suggestion that he should be moved to forward; it is only a hypothetical question as to whether or not it would work.

More from Editorials

Comparing Werenski to CBJ Players Offensively

If Werenski were to be moved to forward, he would undoubtedly play in the top six. In terms of offensive statistics, Zach Werenski is tied for third on the team in points with 11 and he is also tied for second in goals with five. The only players ahead of Werenski in points are Artemi Panarin, Seth Jones and he is tied with Oliver Bjorkstrand. Meanwhile in terms of goals, Werenski is only behind Josh Anderson and is once again tied with Oliver Bjorkstrand. Add Werenski’s monster rookie year to the equation, and suddenly he appears to be one of the top offensive threats on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Recent Defenseman to Forward Experiments

Defensemen who get moved to forward are rare, typically once a player is seen as a defender they’ll remain there their entire career. The most recent cases of this type of cross-over would be Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Burns. It’s difficult to judge how each one performed at forward since those statistics do not appear to be posted anywhere, except for one article on from 2013, which states Burns had 17 goals and 17 assists in 37 games since making the switch. It appears that neither switch was necessarily game-changing, but it’s worth noting that both players are defensemen currently.

Related Story: The Hockey Basics from a Columbus Blue Jackets Fan- Part 1


Playing Zach Werenski at forward would certainly be a risky move for the Columbus Blue Jackets at this point in his development. Considering the fact that neither of the two most recent defenseman to forward experiments helped drastically, it’s likely not worth the risk. While it may work out, I’d only recommend the move if they get decimated by injuries and it comes down to a last resort. While it’ll likely never happen, seeing Werenski at forward–even for only one game would be something special to watch. He’d almost certainly excel at it, but would it be worth losing a top pairing defenseman for a top six forward?