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DRAFT: Woo's physicality is unlike others at NHL Draft

"I want opponents to know that when they do play against me, that they'll be scared and I'll be competing every time I have the puck or don't have the puck," said Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Jett Woo

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

DALLAS, TX - In a 2018 NHL Draft replete with offensive-minded, right-shot defencemen, Moose Jaw Warriors blueliner Jett Woo is an outlier.

Standing at 6-foot, 205-pounds, the defender is a presence on the ice capable of threatening opposition by playing the body. 

He's not of the offensive echelon like Noah Dobson, Evan Bouchard or Adam Boqvist but the 17-year-old can also produce. Woo amassed nine goals, 25 points and finished plus-29 in the 2017-18 season on a stacked Warriors squad that led the Western Hockey League with a 52-15-2-3 record and 109 points.

But make no mistake, Woo's game is separating the player from the puck and causing his competition to think twice before they enter the offensive zone from his side of the ice.

Video: COMBINE | Jett Woo

"I like to play physical and to play with a little bit of grit to my game," Woo told EdmontonOilers.com at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. 

"I want opponents to know that when they do play against me, that they'll be scared and I'll be competing every time I have the puck or don't have the puck. That's something in my game that I take pride in and won't be able to lose."

With speed and skill dominating the game of hockey, big hits have been on the decline. Positioning has become more important than catching a player with their head down but Woo believes years of hitting has him able to recognize when is the right time to go shoulder-to-shoulder. 

"Back in bantam or so, I'd go hit someone and it would be a 50/50 call whether it was dirty or not because I was bigger than the kid," Woo, who's registered 48 points in 116 career WHL games, said. "I think growing up like that and being able to pick my spots and know when there is a time and place for a big hit or a good angle - those kinds of things - I grew up learning and being able to use that in my game now."

Touted by many as a first- or second-round talent, Woo saw his draft stock fall due to injury. He kicked off the '17-18 campaign with a six-game point streak and had five goals and 12 assists through the first 18 matches. After returning from injury, the offence wasn't as routine.

"The injuries that I went through this year were difficult but I had such a great team, staff and people behind me to get through that," said Woo. "To see the positives of what was happening, to get back as soon as possible to be there for them and play those (playoff) games was huge for me."

Woo and the Warriors were outed by Oilers goalie prospect Stuart Skinner and his Swift Current Broncos in seven games of the WHL Playoffs second round. The year wasn't a complete wash, though, as Woo put himself into the draft conversation while his club made good on their goal to be the best team during the regular season.

Video: DRAFT | Bob Green 1-on-1

"We set a lot of goals at the beginning of the season and one of them was to be the top team and have the best record," said Woo. "Being able to have that and bring that back to Moose Jaw was something special for us."

It's unclear where Woo will fall at this week's NHL Draft in Dallas, TX. The Oilers hold the 40th-overall selection and with the multi-faceted ability of the defenceman, Woo could become an intriguing prospect to consider.

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