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Woo has name, playing style to be fan favorite with Canucks

Defenseman of Chinese descent taken in 2018 Draft feeling support on, off ice in Vancouver

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Jett Woo has the name to become a fan favorite. The Vancouver Canucks plan to be patient and give the defenseman time to develop his game to match.

Fans shouted "Woo" from the time he stepped on the ice at Rogers Arena, with every hit and shot, and all the way down the ice during his turn in a shootout at the Canucks Summer Showdown Top Prospect Game that wrapped up their annual development camp.

"When I stepped on the ice I thought they were booing me at the beginning, but it turns out they were just yelling my name," Woo said. "It's kind of neat to have that support and love from such a big fan base."


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Woo felt that support away from the rink in Vancouver as well.

Named after China-born actor Jet Li, who was supposed to stay with Woo's grandparents in Winnipeg when he first came to North America but went to Hollywood instead, Woo became the second-highest of Chinese descent to be selected when the Canucks picked him in the second round (No. 37) of the 2018 NHL Draft. Only New York Islanders forward Joshua Ho-Sang was drafted higher (No. 28 in 2014), making Woo popular in a region with 500,000 residents of Chinese origin.

"I already had people come up and welcome me and want to take pictures with me," Woo said. "It's just awesome to have so much support."

The Canucks drafted Woo, who turns 18 on July 27, knowing the hard-hitting, right-shot defenseman will need similar support on the ice to round out an already stout defensive game.

Projected to be a first-round pick, the 6-foot, 205-pound defenseman missed 6 1/2 weeks last season with a separated shoulder and another month with a hip injury. He finished with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists), 33 penalty minutes and a plus-29 rating in 44 games for Moose Jaw of the Western Hockey League.

Video: Woo Emotional Family Celebration After he is Drafted

"This kid is a warrior," Canucks director of player development Ryan Johnson said. "This is a high, high-character kid that is very raw in his approach to a lot of things about the game, which we get excited about because that's where our resources come in from a development side."

Woo will take what he learned at development camp to Hockey Canada's World Junior Showcase tournament in late July. That invite gives him a head start to play in the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship being held in Vancouver and Victoria this winter.

"The biggest thing right now personally is I want to round [out] my game," Woo said. "Ever since I was a little kid I have been able to play the defensive side of the puck and that was one thing I took pride in, so to shape up my game and figure out everything else, along with getting bigger, faster, stronger, and the tools you need to make the NHL is something I need to work on."

He already has the name for it.

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