One of the prospects that combines that speed and skill is Will Lockwood, the Canucks’ third round pick in the most recent draft.
Coming out of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Lockwood is a guy the Canucks are high on and were happy to get 64th overall.
“He is one of those players that has great speed without the puck, but when he gets the puck on his stick he has a second gear,” said Canucks Director of Player Development Stan Smyl. “A lot of players will slow down when they get the puck, he doesn’t seem to do that. With the puck he can be very creative, but it’s the speed that separates him from everyone else.”
His stats the past two seasons won’t jump out at you. He had six points (3-3-6) in 20 USHL games last season. Keep in mind, playing on that loaded USNTDP team, there isn’t a whole lot of opportunities to be had. There is more offence to his game then what the numbers have shown. The Canucks know that, and he knows that.
“I definitely feel that way,” said Lockwood. “Playing for the US Development Team, there is so much talent there and everyone can score goals. Certain guys are given certain opportunities and you kind of have to find a role, which I did, and I think that’s what Vancouver liked about me. I think they see that offensive opportunity in the near future also.”
The Bloomfield Hills, MI product describes his game as a speedy, energy type style that can provide offence. And don’t let the 5-foot-11, 172-pound and growing frame fool you.
“I think of myself as a pretty good skater,” said Lockwood. “Someone who will play in all three zones. I’m kind of an energy guy, but can also provide the skill on the ice to make plays and score goals.
“I pride my game on playing a lot bigger than I am. A lot of the guys out there are going to be over six-foot, so playing my game a lot bigger than I am is key for me on the ice.”
Lockwood is the youngest prospect in the Canucks system, having just turned 18 in late June. Patience must be preached. He needs time to develop and get stronger, and there aren’t many places better for him than in the NCAA with the University of Michigan.
“When you go to a program like Michigan, it speaks for itself,” said Smyl. “The coaching he will get there has us very excited about it.”
Lockwood will get all the opportunities he needs at Michigan next season. The program is losing its entire first line, as well as two other high-scoring forwards. Their head coach, Red Berenson, has been there since 1984. He won a Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year in 1981 with the St. Louis Blues. His track record of developing players speaks for itself, but his track record of turning players under 6-feet tall into NHL regulars is very strong. Brendan Morrison, Mike Cammalleri, Mike Comrie, Andrew Cogliano, Carl Hagelin, to name a few.
But for Lockwood, the opportunity to go to Michigan is extra special. His parents both went there. He grew up a fan of the Maize and Blue. His father, Joe, played four seasons for Michigan from 1985-1988. Lockwood will wear the same jersey number as his father did, number 10.
“He got me into the game when I was really young,” said Lockwood. “Growing up to have that father figure as a hockey guy too, is huge. He taught me a lot on the ice and obviously being a dad, he taught me a lot off the ice. To have him growing up was a great experience for me.”
Canucks fans should keep an eye on Lockwood. If his development goes as planned, he should be a candidate for the U.S. National Junior Team in 2017. We must wait and see.
“These next couple years are very key for my development. I think I have a pretty high ceiling and I am just starting to grow and develop as a player.”