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Canucks’ Top 25 Under 25 (2022 Edition): #12 Will Lockwood is a gamer, but is he an NHLer?

The 24-year-old is one of the oldest players on our list.

San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks
Will Lockwood has proven in his pro hockey career that he will play his ass off. Is that enough to earn a full-time spot in the NHL?
Getty Images

Welcome to the 2022 Edition of the Vancouver Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings. The list includes all players in the Canucks system who were born after April 15th, 1998.

Now 15 games into his NHL career, here’s what we know about Will Lockwood.

  • His compete level is through the roof. Although he clearly has some limitations, Lockwood runs around the ice looking to make plays and thrash bodies.
  • He has no fear. Lockwood led the team in hits per-60 last season despite his lack of size. Depending on which outlet you read, he checks in somewhere between 170 and 185 pounds.
  • He can skate.

The real question is, can he harness his skill set and become a full-time NHLer?

To be honest, the odds are stacked against him.

Lockwood enters this season as a 24-year-old, and one of the longest-tenured pieces in this Canucks’ organization.

He’s also going to enter his third NHL training camp, playing alongside the most stacked forward group the Canucks have had in a few seasons.

That doesn’t bode well for Lockwood playing much in the NHL this season. The winger will likely rely on injuries to get his opportunity unless he absolutely blows the doors off in training camp.

Based on his compete level, it’s possible, but other perceived weaknesses in his game could hold him back.

Daniel Gee, one of our voters, wrote about Lockwood’s game for Daily Hive earlier this year.

While he highlights his relentless forechecking ability among his skillset, his offensive game leaves something to be desired, even at the AHL level.

Here’s what Daniel had to say about Lockwood’s shot.

“Lockwood’s shooting decisions are also simplistic,” Daniel writes. “If he’s not within five feet of the net, most of his attempts are reactionary, mainly looking to create rebounds. He can suffer in static situations to find space, like in the bumper spot on the power play, where movement is limited.

“Mechanically, his shot isn’t terrible, but he rarely beats goaltenders cleanly at the AHL level due to shot location and placement issues.”

And here’s a quote about his passing game.

“When Lockwood passes off the rush (breaking through the tunnel vision), he tends to throw pucks away because of missed scans.”

It’s evident that Lockwood will never be a prolific offensive player, but there needs to be some kind of baseline if he wants to become a full-time NHLer.

To date, he’s pointless in 15 NHL games.

What’s Next for Lockwood?

What’s likely next for Lockwood is another demotion to Abbotsford, where he’ll get one more extended chance to prove to Canucks’ management that he’s worthy of a call-up.

The Michigan native does have a chance to become a full-time NHLer, but he’ll need to continue focusing on using his speed and physicality to create havoc at both ends of the rink.

He also began to take on a major penalty-killing role in Abbotsford as the season progressed. Proving his worth there would also bode well for his NHL future.

Here’s what Abbotsford Canucks GM Ryan Johnson told The Athletic about lessons Lockwood can take away from last season.

“For Will, the biggest thing that he took — and that we took — from late in the season is that he did some very good things, but there was some hesitation in his game at times — sitting and watching a little bit, as opposed to getting on his horse and using his speed, which is his biggest asset.”

Lockwood has been through adversity in his young career. He’s battled a number of injuries, which isn’t surprising based on his style of play.

He has some NHL-ready tools, but the Canucks probably need to see more before he’s given a full-time role in the NHL.

It’s worth noting as well that Lockwood is waiver-eligible this season, and could be claimed if & when he’s sent down to Abbotsford.