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‘My expectations are nothing less than playing in the NHL’: Confident and motivated, Jett Woo ready for Canucks camp

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Photo credit:@abbotsfordcanucks on IG
Faber
By Faber
8 months ago
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By now, you probably know the story of Jett Woo.
In case you need a refresher:
Woo was drafted 37th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He went on to play two more seasons in the WHL before making the jump to the AHL during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. At the time, the Canucks’ AHL affiliate was not the Abbotsford Canucks. The Utica Comets were still the Canucks’ minor league team and that was a difficult speed bump in Woo’s road to becoming a pro hockey player.
Following his rookie season in pro hockey, the Canucks made a great move by relocating their AHL club down the highway in Abbotsford. But still, Woo struggled to develop during the 2021-22 season. He finished his first two years AHL years with 70 games played, five goals and eight assists. There were flashes of physicality but it certainly wasn’t consistent in Woo’s first two AHL seasons.
Then came the 2022-23 season with the Abbotsford Canucks, where Woo became one of the most-trusted defencemen for head coach Jeremy Colliton.
“It was a big year mentally,” said Woo when asked about the 2022-23 season with Abbotsford. “After that first year in Abbotsford, I definitely got in my own head after preseason, thinking about too much but I went into last season with the mindset of ‘I was drafted there for a reason’ and to play that kind of hockey. I don’t think that I’ll be that offensive-minded defenseman in the NHL so I made sure to focus on my defensive game and the points ended up coming later on which it’s not something that I focused on, but I think it’s just one more part of my game that I was able to show towards the end.”
Woo got back to being tough to play against. It’s something that is difficult for players who are making the jump from junior to pro hockey and it makes sense. You go from being the oldest, biggest and strongest to the youngest, newest, and greenest. It takes time to build confidence in yourself, especially after the circumstances around you make it difficult to achieve your goals.
The 2022-23 season was huge for Woo. He was one of Abbotsford’s top penalty-killing defencemen, he was used on the power play at times, was a top-pairing right or left-shot defenceman and ended up being the leading goal scorer of all Abbotsford defencemen.
Woo played in 68 AHL games last year and finished the season with seven goals, 14 assists, 96 penalty minutes, and was a +7.
From here, it’s time for Woo to take those next steps that gets him into the best hockey league in the world.
“My expectations are nothing less than playing in the NHL,” said Woo. “That’s my priority. That’s my goal. I feel like I’ve taken some good steps, especially this summer and I’m coming in ready. I’m going to be a prick on the ice and I’m going to be one of the leaders as well. I’m excited and I definitely have some fire in my belly and I’m just going to come in and play the best hockey I can.”
Abbotsford General Manager Ryan Johnson mentioned in his end-of-season media availability that the team wanted to see Woo get into some NHL games but it just didn’t work out that way at the end of the season. That likely came from some NCAA players and the Canucks already being at their limit for call-ups late in the year. Woo told us that though he wanted to get into some NHL games at the end of the year, he was focused on helping Abbotsford fight into the playoffs and is now looking forward to next season, where his goal is to make the Vancouver Canucks right out of training camp.
Woo mentioned his changing mindset and how he feels like he’s not a rookie anymore. He’s focused on being a leader in training camp and stepping up even if there are older guys there.
“In other years, I’ve been a little bit timid, nervous and scared and but [now] I know what to expect,” said Woo when we asked about how his approach is different for this year’s training camp compared to the first few he has attended. “I’ve just got to come out there showing how hard I worked during the offseason. I’ve been to a few training camps already, so I know there are guys that’ll be there for their first or second [camp] and they’ll be nervous a little bit but I want to be a guy that can help out a little bit and be a leader and keep [things] moving in the right direction. I know the coaches and the staff know what to expect of me and I think it’s just up to me to prove them right.”
Making the jump from junior to the AHL is difficult but the jump from the AHL to the NHL is arguably just as tough for a player to make. Woo has now played in 138 AHL games and we asked him what from those games has him believing that he is NHL-ready.
“Aside from the little things like learning how to move quickly or jump up in the rush, it’s just my mentality now,” said Woo. “I said before, maybe I was a little timid or nervous or whatever. But I don’t think I’ve been at a stage in my career, like I have now, where I feel ready. I have nothing short of playing in the NHL as a goal. That’s where I’m at right now, it’s just my mentality going into training camp.”
Woo talked about learning little tricks throughout his three years in the AHL. Whether it be boxing out in the corners, knowing when to throw a big hit, or stepping up and helping add some offence from the backend — Woo says that he has picked up a ton from veterans in the league, coaches and now the development coaches like Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
We can have a peek at the Canucks’ depth chart on the right side of the defence and the lock has to be Filip Hronek but aside from that, we’re still wondering about Tyler Myers’ future with the Canucks. New addition Ian Cole can play the right side and Noah Juulsen is also in the conversation for a spot in the opening night lineup.
The current construction of the Canucks’ defence corps is giving Woo a chance to go in and earn an NHL spot this coming season. Cole McWard and Filip Johansson are two younger players in the conversation as well but Woo has plenty more North American pro experience.
You can bet that Woo will make it into some NHL games next season and once he gets there, we will have to see if his game has improved enough and if he is able to bring his confidence from last season into the 2023-24 year. Woo signed a one-year extension with the Canucks on May 31st and it doesn’t carry a heavy AHL salary. Woo will make more than seven times more on his paychecks if he’s playing in the NHL instead of the AHL, so, there’s quite a bit of financial motivation there for Woo along with his chase to achieve his lifelong dream and become an NHLer.
We had a 20-minute chat with Woo on the most recent episode of the Canucks Conversation Podcast — which I’ll leave links to at the end of this article. Woo spoke with a lot of confidence. Let’s see how he backs it up at Canucks training camp.
Apple Podcast Link
Spotify Link

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