The news that prospect William Lockwood signed a two-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks usually would not create a buzz in this city but in the black hole that is existence without hockey, we will take anything that comes out of Rogers Arena. Before Tyler Madden was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for Tyler Toffoli, he was a some-what forgotten college prospect. Now he’s front and center in Canuck Nation. Let’s find out who he is and what the future could hold for the newest face on the West Coast.
Lockwood’s Days With the US National Development Team
By the age of 15, Lockwood was already getting noticed by the coaches of the US National Team Development Program. When he got the call that he made the team, he was not as excited as you might think. Because of his age, he wasn’t sure that he was going to be used all that much, as his father Joe explained,
He did not want to play on that team if he was going to be one of the kids that was going to be not used as much…He was reluctant to sign up with them for that reason.Joe Lockwood (from ‘Just like his dad: Michigan ties come full circle for Lockwood family’, Michigan Daily – 10/09/19)
After a little coaxing from him, Lockwood joined the team and became an integral part of it. His first season saw him score 14 goals and 21 points in 53 games while skating with current NHLers Clayton Keller and Adam Fox. He didn’t look out of place playing with them either, which boded well for him as he entered his draft year.
With colleges starting to recruit and the 2016 NHL Draft just around the corner, Lockwood’s first full season with the U18 team was an important one. He rose to the occasion scoring 13 goals and 33 points in 59 games. That performance got him noticed by the NHL scouts as well as the University of Michigan who was already keeping an eye on him because of his father’s connection to the school.
As soon as we saw that — you know, these are the kids we want at Michigan. Kids from Michigan, kids that really understand what Michigan is all about, and in particular, a kid whose dad had played here.Former Michigan Wolverines head coach Red Berenson (from ‘Just like his dad: Michigan ties come full circle for Lockwood family’, Michigan Daily – 10/09/19)
Projected to go in the fourth round by many outlets, the Canucks jumped up and selected him early in the third round. A few weeks later, he was on his way to play for the Michigan Wolverines. Talk about a dream come true on two fronts.
Lockwood’s Dream Comes True in Michigan
Just like his father before him, Lockwood joined the Wolverines and continued the family legacy. His first two seasons were ravaged by injuries to his left shoulder, but he still put up a respectable 12 goals and 31 points in 46 games. He had surgery before his junior season began with the hope that it would eliminate the problem. His next season was a banner one as he scored 16 goals and 31 points, which was the same amount he put up in his first two seasons with the team.
That season also saw him play with current Canucks standout defenceman Quinn Hughes, who was the only player to finish with more points than him. He developed some incredible chemistry with him as well, as he was one of the only forwards that could keep up with his footspeed. Now he could make that duo a reality once again when he joins him in Vancouver next season.
Lockwood’s senior year was cut short by the NCAA’s decision to suspend the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is unfortunate as he was having another solid season with the Wolverines. He was named captain at the beginning of 2019-20 and was on the cusp of competing in the Frozen Four tournament. Now that dream is dead, and he will have to settle for a shot at an NHL roster spot in 2020-21. After the premature end to the season, he finished his college career with 37 goals and 85 points.
Lockwood’s Future With the Canucks
Now that the uncertainty is over and Lockwood is signed, what can we expect from the feisty forward from Bloomfield Hills? Throughout his USNTDP and college career, he was always a fast, physical presence with the propensity for a little razzle-dazzle at times. His best assets are his speed and tenacity without a doubt. As is with most Canucks prospects, he has great character as well, which was on full display after he signed his contract.
I told Mr.Benning: ‘There’s just no way, with the support you’ve shown me over the years (that I’d sign anywhere else)’Canucks prospect William Lockwood (from ”They always had my back’: How the Canucks earned Will Lockwood’s loyalty’. The AthleticNHL – 03/20/20
Canucks fans were certainly concerned about Lockwood’s decision to forgo signing until now, but it looks like it was never an issue. He wanted to leave a legacy in Michigan, then turn pro, meaning he had no desire to enter free agency. That’s a testament to general manager Jim Benning and his staff. The supportive culture he’s creating is something that has gone under the radar, that’s why he’s been able to get so many NCAA graduates to sign with the Canucks, and not take advantage of the free agency loophole.
The Canucks supported Lockwood throughout his injury problems and continued to develop him as a top prospect in the organization. I still stand by the projection that he will become a solid bottom-six contributor in the future. His speed and tenacity remind me of Jannik Hansen in his prime. Time will tell if he can live up to that, but even if he becomes a Tyler Motte type player, that’s still a great ceiling for a third-round pick. Now all he has to do is work hard to get there, which is something he’s very familiar with.