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Photo Credit: — UofM Athletics photo [PNG Merlin Archive]

CanucksArmy’s 2018 “Midterm” Prospect Rankings: #9 Will Lockwood

Will Lockwood is a confusing player. It was confusing when the Canucks selected him over a full round earlier than he was projected to go. It was confusing when his scoring rates skyrocketed the following year in a tougher league against tougher competition. And now, with a 16-game sample to draw from and a potentially career-altering injury, it’s more than a little confusing trying to divine what direction he’s headed in. Regardless, his projectable toolkit and impressive rookie NCAA season were enough to land him in the ninth slot on our midterm prospect rankings.

Numbers

After seeing his expected likelihood of success percentage by the prospect Graduation probabilities system (pGPS) skyrocket from 1.8% to 17.5% after his stellar rookie season in the NCAA, Lockwood’s numbers have taken a significant dip. It’s important to remember that his sophomore season consisted of only 16 games, so it’d difficult to draw conclusions based on that sample.

When looking at his most recent season, Lockwood has an expected success percentage of 7.9%. Most of Lockwood’s successful cohorts carved out their careers as bottom-six forwards but there were some notable offensive producers among his matches, including Patrick Sharp, Gustav Nyquist, Cam Atkinson, and Carl Hagelin.

Overall, Lockwood had a positive impact on his teammates’ ability to create offence, although once again it is important to note the small sample size.

Scouting Report

Watching a highlight package from either of Lockwood’s two seasons in the NCAA could easily give one the impression that he is a potentially elite player. The first word that comes to mind with regards to Lockwood is “tools”. He’s got them, in spades. He’s great with the puck, has a sneaky wrist shot, and the ferocity of a player much larger than his modest 5’11” frame. His biggest asset, however, is his skating ability. Lockwood is among the fastest skaters in the Canucks’ pool, a skill that he frequently uses to his advantage. His acceleration is rapid and he is frequently able to separate himself from defenders on the forecheck. He is particularly adept at generating breakaways, and has scored a number of his goals off of individual efforts. Lockwood does a lot of his damage in the neutral zone, something J.D. Burke was able to make note of tracking zone entries for HockeyData Inc, which he discussed in his preseason profile:

Under the watchful eye of Wolverines head coach Red Berenson, Lockwood seems to have refined his game in a way that leads to sustained offence. As Jeremy Davis noted in his excellent mid-season profile, Lockwood (in an admittedly small sample) is using his speed to push play in the neutral zone with controlled entries at the highest rate on his entire team. A testament to Lockwood’s defensive commitment, he led all Wolverines forwards in controlled zone exits as well — he wasn’t flying the zone or cheating to create offence.

One thing Lockwood’s always done well is apply his speed in puck retrieval. Canucks general manager Jim Benning’s comparison to Hansen holds up especially well in this light. 

Unfortunately, Lockwood could also be a case study in why it’s important not to judge a prospect based simply on his best moments. Lockwood’s highlight package is filled with an inside-outside fake he loves to pull on defenders. When it works, it looks amazing. When it doesn’t, it results in a turnover, and looks more silly than impressive. This is a fairly consistent issue with Lockwood offensively. He loves to hold on to the puck – and he’s very good at it- but sometimes he holds onto it a little too long, and his speed can often cause him to skate the puck into trouble rather than out of it. For Lockwood to truly unlock his offensive potential, he will need to learn to use his linemates more consistently and rely on hockey sense rather than pure speed to make plays.

By the same token, there are positive attributes that don’t necessarily show up in a highlight package, either. Lockwood has a very strong two-way profile, is responsible defensively, and plays on both special teams for the Wolverines. He’s also extremely feisty and unafraid to take on much larger players in the corners and along the boards. It’s an admirable quality; but it’s also part of the reason Lockwood’s had shoulder surgery, twice. He sustained a season-ending injury at the World Juniors in January, and it’s difficult to know how Lockwood will recover. He’s missed some significant development time, which makes him a prime candidate to fall down the prospect rankings come September. Still, he’s flashed upside over his NCAA career, and it’s entirely possible that the Canucks found a diamond in the rough in 2016 drafting a forward out of the USHL. It wouldn’t be the first time.

CanucksArmy’s 2018 Midterm Prospect Rankings

#10: Petrus Palmu #11: Jalen Chatfield #12: Evan McEneny
#13: Zack MacEwen #14: Guillaume Brisebois #15: Jack Rathbone
#16: Michael Carcone #17: Cole Candella #18: Brett McKenzie
#19: Matt Brassard #20: Lukas Jasek #21 – #22
#23 – #24 #25 – #27 #28 – #31

 

  • North Van Halen

    Funny, it’s been so long since he played, I’d kinda forgotten about him.

    I think his shoulder trouble spells double jeopardy for the Canucks. First, it sure draws question marks about his future but just as important may be the Canucks ability to sign him.
    Next year will be his junior year and if the injury impedes his development it means Lockwood going back for his senior year. If that happens, I doubt he signs with the Canucks. If you were a 22 year old American kid and could sign with any team in the NHL, the Canucks would have to come up with a darn good reason for him to sign. Personally I’d be a Ranger to live in NY but I digress.
    I like this kid but if I could package him once the season starts and his health looks better I’d think long and hard about it, before I hear him say he’s going back for his senior year.
    I really hate that NCAA free agency rule, I hope it doesn’t bite us here.

    • Kootenaydude

      I can’t see why this guy is in the Canucks top ten. Already 22, season ending surgery, multiple surgeries and the chance to be a free agent. I don’t think he will sign here. I think he will go the free agent route or just stick to getting an education.

      • North Van Halen

        he’s only 19 now, 20 in June. By the time he has to make this decision, in 2 years, he will be 22. I just think the injury means he’s more likely to play the full 4 seasons and go the free agent route when he is done college.

          • argoleas

            Fully expect that to happen. I believe vast majority of College players stay loyal to the team that drafted them, especially if it is in the latter rounds. Perfect example would be Gaudette’s linemates.

      • Fred-65

        The injury is really a double edged sword. What may make him look at playing his senior year may also put other GM’s off from signing him, is he worth a slot in there 50 man contracts ?

    • liqueur des fenetres

      You might be drawn by the gleam of the Big Apple, but I’d think most guys are looking for the opportunity to play right away plus role — you’d think that the Canucks would be high on the radar for free agents. But now with the Rodin and Holm experience on the record you’d have to think that free agents are going to start thinking twice when approached by Vancouver. Leafs just signed a 26 year old Swedish C, supposedly Canucks were on the short list, anyway, it’s not proof either way.

      • Kootenaydude

        The Canucks should be going for a quality veteran NHL centre that can mentor our young guys. Not a 26 year Swedish league player. Hopefully with Pettersson joining the Canucks next year. Players of that caliber might be interested in coming here.

        • liqueur des fenetres

          With Sutter and Eriksson, how many more mentors do they need? And the 26 y.o. Swede would have just been an asset acquired at close to no cost.

      • Vancouver has never been an attractive landing spot for free agents, NCAA or otherwise. Aside from Stecher and Hamhuis (both local guys), I can’t really think of very many high profile free agents that have come here. Rodin and Holm were longshots, it didn’t help that Rodin never recovered properly from his knee injury.

        • North Van Halen

          Sundin for $10mil/yr. Gillis offered 2 yrs but he only took 1, mercifully, or the Sedins woulda been gone b4 2011. Messier for 3yrs – 6mil/yr which he took and promptly retired but not before he ruined Linden, destroyed Pat Quinn and completely devastated the franchise. And finally Louie Eriksson.
          Not sure what I’m trying to say except maybe we should shy away from those big dollar deals!?

  • Tedchinook

    Confusing is a perfect description – huge promise, but will his shoulder allow him to fulfill it. It would be very interesting to hear what the doctors say about the potential for future injury to that shoulder.

  • UKCanuck

    Not sure I understand how shoulder surgery is considered career threatening. Half the players in the league or more have probably had a shoulder reconstruction. (I’ve had two).
    As for the NCAA worries, I expect he’ll look to have a big year this year then turn pro. If he struggles this year and isn’t turning pro after his junior year then it is probably an indication his development has stalled and he is no longer a prospect.

  • Defenceman Factory

    A lot of uninformed medical opinions being shared here. For all anyone knows Lockwood’s surgery went fine and he will make a full recovery. 19 year olds do that with regularity. Is there any recent news on his prognosis?

    Lockwood could be skating and training hard right now, watching the playoffs and dreaming about his opportunity. He has watched Boeser and Gaudette get their chances and talked to them about coming to Vancouver. He could be a dominate player in the NCAA next season and sign with the Canucks at its conclusion. This is a scenario just as likely as all the doom and gloom.