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Woo expands skill set as prospect with Canucks

Defenseman, selected in second round of 2018 NHL Draft, had 66 points last season in WHL

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Jett Woo is coming off a breakout offensive season, but the 18-year-old defenseman prospect has no pretenses about his future role with the Vancouver Canucks.

He had 66 points (12 goals, 54 assists) in 62 games with Moose Jaw in the Western Hockey League last season, but Woo (6-foot, 205 pounds) still sees himself as the same hard-hitting, stay-at-home defenseman that was selected in the second round (No. 37) of the 2018 NHL Draft.

"The offensive side of the game is fun, but at the same time I always say defense is what wins hockey games, and I am proud to play like that," Woo said at Vancouver's development camp in late June. "As a kid, even if I was able to go end-to-end with the puck, the thing I loved most was getting a chance to test a guy one-on-one coming down on me, and the feeling of trying to prevent them getting around me. The defensive side of the game is something I will never lose."

 

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Defense was the focus when the Canucks drafted Woo, who had 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 44 games with Moose Jaw in 2017-18, and that forecast hasn't changed even after he more than doubled that point total as part of an expanded role last season.

Video: 8 Things to Know About Canucks Prospect Jett Woo

But that doesn't mean the Canucks aren't excited to see more offense from the right-shot defenseman, who turns 19 on July 27.

"Does that mean that's what he is going to translate into at the pro level? Not necessarily," said Canucks senior director of player development Ryan Johnson. "But we like he's adding that to his game, and anytime that you can be a hard-nosed, physical player like him, but also feel comfortable at the offensive blue line and making plays, we hope that continues to grow."

The Canucks were impressed Woo, who signed a three-year, entry-level contract March 16, took those strides playing through a knee injury that required minor surgery this offseason. Woo skated on his own during development camp and said he will be ready well before training camp.

He is expected to play another season in the WHL (with Calgary after a May trade from Moose Jaw) and should have a good chance to play for Canada at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship after being left off the team last year.

For Woo, it's more opportunity to expand his on-ice repertoire and embrace a spotlight that got brighter after the Canucks made him the second-highest drafted player of Chinese descent behind only New York Islanders forward Joshua Ho-Sang (No. 28 in the 2014 NHL Draft).

"Even in some opposing rinks I could still hear a lot of fans cheering for me, and the number of fans I've met has been unbelievable," said Woo. "I take it as a positive, people know me, they want to watch me play, want to see how I am off the ice."

On the ice, Woo is not changing his style, no matter what the statistics say.

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