Like every team in the league that has top prospects playing in college, the Vancouver Canucks find themselves hoping Will Lockwood will sign with them at some point before turning to unrestricted free agency. Lockwood already told the team he is returning to the University of Michigan for his senior season, and could potentially pick his professional destination by waiting until August 2020. Today however he gave Canucks’ fans a bit of hope when speaking on Sportsnet radio (via Rick Dhaliwal):
I talked with [Canucks’ GM Jim] Benning and [Utica Comets GM Ryan] Johnson, things don’t change for me, the goal is to still play in Vancouver at the end of next year. I also want to leave a little bit of a legacy in Michigan.
The decision was more difficult than I thought but the Canucks were very understanding and didn’t force me and gave me the time.
Lockwood, 20, was the Canucks’ third round pick in 2016 and exploded offensively this season for Michigan, recording 31 points in 36 games. He trailed only Quinn Hughes in team scoring, a player the team hopes he will follow to Vancouver after next season. Hughes signed this year and jumped right into the lineup, something that Lockwood could do in order to burn a year of his entry-level deal next season.
Hughes is not the only college star finding success with Vancouver. The team has signed Adam Gaudette and Brock Boeser the past two springs and both are now key contributors in the forward group. The undersized but talented Lockwood could be next, though he’ll be closer to unrestricted free agency than either of them were. Boeser signed as a sophomore and Gaudette as a junior.