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Did Jett Woo get shafted?

The Canucks prospect was surprisingly omitted from Canada’s World Junior camp.

2018 NHL Draft - Portraits
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 23: Jett Woo poses after being selected 37th overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Ric Flair “Wooooooooooooooo” has become commonplace in Rogers Arena over the years (for better or for worse). If fans do imitate the wrestler’s famous catchphrase during the World Juniors, it won’t be because of defenceman Jett Woo.

On Monday, Canada, Finland, and the Czech Republic announced their rosters for their World Juniors Camps. Goaltender Michael DiPietro was named to Team Canada, while defenceman Toni Utunen was named to Team Finland’s preliminary roster. It wasn’t surprising to see either of those names on World Junior rosters, but one of the bigger surprises was the exclusion of another Canucks prospect.

By all accounts, has enjoyed a good season for the Moose Jaw Warriors, who are 15-6-3-1 on the season and 8-1-0-1 in their last ten games.

Woo, who scored his fourth goal of the season in the Warriors last game against the Red Deer Rebels, has 16 points in 21 games this season. His progression has been strong considering he had 25 points in 44 games during an injury-riddled campaign last year.

Jett Woo a victim of numbers game

One of the reasons why many thought Woo would be a lock for Team Canada, was because his junior coach, Tim Hunter, is the head coach for Canada’s World Junior squad. Despite that, Woo still couldn’t snag a spot on the preliminary roster.

While it’s surely disappointing that Woo won’t be suiting up for Team Canada for his ‘home team’ in Vancouver, there are a couple of reasons why he wasn’t one of the defenceman named.

  • Once Evan Bouchard was sent back to the OHL, he immediately knocked Woo down a tier in terms of Canada’s RHD. Bouchard is presumably the number one guy on the right side for Canada, and has looked strong for the London Knights (15 points in 11 games).
Boston Bruins v Edmonton Oilers
Evan Bouchard #75 of the Edmonton Oilers shoves Joakim Nordstrom #20 of the Boston Bruins at Rogers Place on October 18, 2018 in Edmonton, Canada.
Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images
  • Noah Dobson, also a RHD, was a lock for Team Canada despite a dreadful season playing for an undermanned Acadie-Bathhurst Titan squad.
  • Whether you agree or disagree with this statement, it’s clear that Team Canada views Bouchard and Dobson as solid all-around defenders. With that being said, they likely look to another RHD with more offensive potential than Woo. That might explain why Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Calen Addison (2018 2nd round, 53rd overall pick) was chosen ahead of Jett Woo.
  • Jacob Bernard-Docker was another 2018 pick (Ottawa Senators, 26th overall), who’s looked good for North Dakota in the NCAA. That experience playing against older players works in his favour here.
  • The three other RHD’s selected are all 2017 draft picks, which means the get preference in a tournament usually (but not always) dominated by 19 year olds. Those guys are Blackhawks prospect Ian Mitchell (11 points in 12 games for the University of Denver in the NCAA), Canadiens prospect AND Woo’s teammate Josh Brook (29 points in 22 games for the Warriors).
  • It’s disappointing that Woo couldn’t get a selection over his teammate Brook, although it’s hard to argue with Brook’s inclusion. There is one guy who Woo arguably should have gotten a nod over, and that’s Cameron Crotty. The Coyotes 2017 third-round pick has no points in 13 games for Boston University this season. Despite the low offensive output (last year he had eight points in 34 games), Crotty is touted as a good skater, physical player, and a good defenceman in transition. He’s seems to be the physical defender that Woo was competing against for a spot on the right side.
  • Lastly, Woo was a victim of the numbers game since Team Canada has more depth on RHD. They selected seven RHD’s compared to only five LHD for their final roster.

While having Hunter coach both the Warriors and Team Canada seemed like a bonus for Woo, perhaps Hunter didn’t want to look biased in his selection of both Woo and Brook to Team Canada. Regardless, Woo was a player who was on the fence for a nomination. Surely Canucks fans wanted to see him skating for Team Canada in January, but his exclusion is a curiousity rather than a travesty.