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Photo Credit: ยฉ Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

‘It’s not something that the media or fans might see’: Will Lockwood explains how he became the shining star of training camp

Will Lockwood was the highest riser from a three-day Canucks camp, and his dedication to achieving Travis Green’s high standards is the reason why he will be a tough player to cut when it comes to setting the opening night roster.

It’s been a lot of work behind the scenes. Lockwood has been working with skills coaches, skating coaches and putting the time in the gym.

You don’t have to post your workouts on Instagram for them to become real. Will Lockwood made a commitment to high standards this offseason and as a result of him setting those high standards, he stole the show at Canucks training camp.

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Even on day one, it was clear that Lockwood was going to have an excellent camp and be a talking point for Canucks fans through the preseason. He blew away the competition in his skating test after showcasing his improved stick-handling and shot throughout a competitive skate with Travis Green keeping a close eye on his performance.

Throughout his hockey career, Lockwood’s competitiveness has never been questioned. He’s always been hard on pucks and has seen his skating improve over the past few years into a level that is high-end even by NHL standards. Now at age 23, he is ready for this to be his time to make the NHL.

“Making the NHL this fall has been where my mindset is at,” said Lockwood. “Iโ€™m just going to bring effort and energy and play it day-to-day. Coach Green has been great. He expects high standards but also sets a high standard for his players. Coach Green gave me a lot of things to work on for this year. A lot of new and different things to focus on in the summertime. Whenever the coaches are talking, I just try to soak it all in, Iโ€™m just trying to learn as much as I can while Iโ€™m here.”

Lockwood is in a battle for one of the open spots in the bottom-end of the lineup. He is an excellent skater who has the skill set that typically shows well in a training camp environment. Many of the drills are three-quarter length rushes that require a pass or two and quick decision at the blue line before firing a shot on the goaltender. This is where Lockwood can show off his strengths, but the more impressive play has been his physical side.

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All through his developing years, Lockwood has been a physical player and at times in the NCAA, that cost him games. He was playing with reckless abandon and his body did not hold up. We saw frequent shoulder injuries but he has stayed healthy for the past three years after some great advice from his Michigan coach Mel Pearson. Lockwood missed more than half of the season during the 2017-18 year but has honed in his aggressiveness and learned to control his high-tempo play.

Getting physically stronger was a big focus for Lockwood. He spent a ton of time in the gym but it was with the intent of how to translate strength from the weight room to the ice.

โ€œI mean that’s a goal of my offseasons now. I’m not necessarily putting on a ton of weight but I’m just getting stronger pound for pound and working to be able to skate quicker. The weight room does help move some bodies around a little bit better on the ice.โ€

Last season was a great learning experience for Lockwood as he played in NHL games and got to be at a professional training camp. That experience helped him immensely with what to expect at this past weekend’s camp.

โ€œComing in this year, Iโ€™ve got more confidence. I still get a little nervous about camp but it’s not as strenuous as it was last year. This year Iโ€™ve gone out there knowing what to expect. I’m able to just focus on every drill better and then just go out there and play.โ€

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Now that camp has come and gone, we look ahead to the preseason — a spot where Lockwood still has a ton to prove. He’s definitely impressed in training camp but a camp like this is perfectly suited for a player with the strengths Lockwood possesses.

He now needs to go out and impress in a game situation. If the scrimmages have been any indication of what’s to come — we expect him to continue to roll.

โ€œI’m not really sure exactly how the preseason will play out for me but if I’m fortunate enough to get some games, I’ll go out there and bring that same kind of energy level that I brought in camp,” said Lockwood. “I’m not really too concerned about putting up points and things like that. Iโ€™m just going to go out there and bring energy every day, focus on consistency and try to be a player that coach Green can trust.โ€

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In the end, it came down to hard work and Lockwood was confident enough in the work that he has put in over the past few years to give him an opportunity to be a shining star at training camp.

“To be honest, I’m not really too surprised,” said Lockwood when asked about being one of the big stories of training camp from how he impressed in each drill, practice and skating test.

“This camp has come from a lot of hard work. Itโ€™s been a slow process for me. It’s not something that the media or fans might see. Itโ€™s been a day-to-day grind over the past couple of years getting to where I want to be. Itโ€™s like what I said about coach Green, he sets a high standard and that’s the high standard that I set myself so I’m feeling confident.โ€

The main impression that he has left on those who were in the building and watched him was his energy level and how he gives 100% effort every time he is called upon. That high-level energy has been lacking in the Canucks’ bottom-six for a bunch of years now and with players like Jay Beagle and Loui Eriksson moving on, it’s time for a new crop of bottom-six players who play with some urgency.

Lockwood is the urgent bottom-six player that can fit so well in Travis Green’s scheme. โ€œThatโ€™s something I have to do if I want to make it in this league,” said Lockwood. “I need to bring energy every day and if I bring energy on a consistent basis, I think it’ll help me out a lot.โ€

As for what’s next, it’s all about showing well in preseason games.

He has done everything he could have hoped for in training camp and that should give him better and longer opportunities in the seven-game preseason that begins on Sunday night.

After this camp, he is more than a blip on the radar but he’s not yet a lock to make the NHL. It’s going to take a heck of a preseason to make the team but from all we’ve seen so far, he’s on the right track.