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NHL draft 2015: Zach Werenski is your ninth-ranked player on the draft board

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The Michigan defenseman is seen by many as one of the top blueliners in the draft, and may be the most exciting offensive talent of any of them.

Dave Reginek / Getty Images

Another defensive prospect was added to the BSH community board today, as Michigan's Zach Werenski -- a likely lottery pick who's seen by most as one of the draft's top three defensemen or even better -- topped a field of otherwise-forwards in Tuesday's voting. He collected 35 percent of the vote, just outpacing winger Lawson Crouse (25 percent) and center Kyle Connor (17 percent) for the No. 9 spot on the board.

When comparing the 6'2" Werenski to the likes of other defensemen such as Noah Hanifin and Ivan Provorov, or even other forwards on the board, one thing to remember is that he's one of the youngest prospects in this entire draft. With a July 1997 birthday, he's the youngest player on the entire ISS Top 30, and a full six months younger than Hanifin and Provorov. So he's still a little bit behind some of these other guys in development.

Where Hanifin's success is rooted in his world-class speed and skating, and where Provorov relies on an all-around package of instincts, offense, and physicality, the most exciting part of Werenski's profile is what he does in the offensive zone.

Scott Wheeler over at Pension Plan Puppets went as far as to call Werenski arguably "the most offensively gifted" of the draft's top defensemen. That's high praise, given the pedigree of the guys in front of him. But it does seem to be in line with what most say of him: he's an offensive defenseman who has a lot to work on in key areas but has some very impressive raw talent.

Maize 'n' Brew, SB Nation's Michigan site, put out a scouting report on Werenski on Monday, and can mostly be summarized as such:

With regards to Werenski, he still has to learn to use his body a bit more, needs more work on his vision up the ice, and needs to learn a lot more about playing off of the puck.

While all the above are teachable skills, Werenski excels in just about everything in the offensive zone, can move extraordinarily quickly for his size (6-2, 214 lbs.). He spent the entire season running the point on Michigan's powerplay, and served as the only defenseman on the roster with the ability to move the puck up the ice.

The "maturity factor" usually comes into play with defenseman, meaning most defensemen don't have the correct timing to make plays on and off the puck early on in their collegiate/junior and professional careers. While I believe that's a fading an unfair blanket statement, Werenski's patience on the puck is what's got him going as Michigan's highest pick this year.

More and more, you see the NHL moving towards defensemen who can play well with the puck on their stick. That's Werenski. He's a pretty good skater, especially for a guy his size, but it's his offensive skill and intelligence that helped him tally nine goals and 25 points in 35 games -- as a freshman playing almost exclusively against players older than him.

As the report above mentions, Werenski's a guy who still needs to develop in a lot of ways. Particularly, his play in the defensive zone needs some work, and that should improve with time. If it does? Paired with his already-excellent offensive skills? That'd be quite a treat for whoever chooses him next week.

Werenski has said that he'd play in the OHL next year if whichever team drafted him wanted them to do so, so whether the Flyers would like him to or not is anyone's guess. Whatever his choice is, he's very likely to spend at least one additional year in college or juniors, and maybe more, before coming to the AHL or NHL.

Would the Flyers, if they were looking for defensemen, actually take Werenski over the likes of Provorov? Who knows. He needs some work to play at the NHL level, but he's got the talent to be a good defenseman and can maybe even be great with the proper development.

We round out the Top 10 today. Who gets that honor? (And I lied about adding more names. Maybe tomorrow. Voting was spread out enough yesterday that we should be good with the options there now.)

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The 2015 BSH Community NHL Draft Board

  1. Connor McDavid, C, Erie (OHL)
  2. Jack Eichel, C, Boston University (NCAA)
  3. Dylan Strome, C, Erie (OHL) (45% of the vote)
  4. Mitch Marner, C/RW, London (OHL) (54%)
  5. Noah Hanifin, D, Boston College (NCAA) (77%)
  6. Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon (WHL) (45%)
  7. Mathew Barzal, C, Seattle (WHL) (39%)
  8. Mikko Rantanen, RW, TPS (Liiga) (41%)
  9. Zach Werenski, D, Michigan (NCAA) (35%)
  10. ???

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As always, please use your vote below to answer the following question: If all of the players listed were available when the Flyers were on the clock, who would you want them to pick?