The Vancouver Canucks were hoping to get a big boost out of the college ranks for next season, with players like Adam Gaudette and Will Lockwood looking ready to take the next step in their hockey careers. While they’ll have to wait on a final answer from Gaudette on whether he’ll turn pro after his NCAA tournament ends, Rick Dhaliwal of News 1130 reports that Lockwood has already informed the team that he’s heading back to Michigan for another season.
Lockwood is still currently injured, and could feel like there is unfinished business in his collegiate career after playing in just 16 games this season. He injured his shoulder in the World Junior tournament and had to undergo surgery that essentially ended his season. Originally selected in the third round in 2016, Lockwood put up 20 points in 30 games as an 18-year old freshman last season and opened up some eyes on his long-term potential. Still undersized, he nevertheless plays with an aggressive and tenacious style in the offensive zone that can create offensive chances out of pure hard work.
The Canucks aren’t likely to compete for the Stanley Cup next season, as they enter a rebuild in the post-Sedin era (even if they do re-sign for another year, their impact has been greatly reduced). Leaving Lockwood in college another season won’t hurt his development, and he’ll still be just 20 years old when he finishes his junior season. While their focus is clearly on the Hobey Baker finalist in Gaudette, Lockwood won’t be far from their mind next season as he looks to rebound after the disappointing year.