The crowd at the Langley Events Centre erupted after the first goal of the game on Saturday night.
But the home team hadn’t scored.
No, it wasn’t a Vancouver Giants goal, rather it was one from Canucks prospect Jett Woo, playing for the Moose Jaw Warriors.
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) January 20, 2019
The host Giants ended up tying things up and went on to win 2-1 in overtime, but the main takeaway for many in the building after this game was the play of 18-year-old defenceman.
The Canucks selected the 6-foot, 200-pound blueliner 37th overall, in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft.
At the time, he was seen as more of a defensive specialist, with the penchant for laying big hits to unsuspecting victims.
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) October 13, 2018
The hits are still coming for Woo – it only took him just 25 seconds to lay his first hit on Saturday – but what has accompanied is point production, making him even more intriguing of a prospect than a year ago.
In his draft year, Woo produced 0.57 points-per-game. That isn’t an impressive number, but it’s one that was likely diminished due to injuries. Woo suffered a separated shoulder 18 game into last season, missing six weeks of action. Shortly after returning to the lineup, he was sidelined for nearly a month with a strained oblique muscle and hip pointer.
It may have been a blessing in disguise for the Canucks, as he was producing at a 0.76 point-per-game clip before he got banged up, which helped him slip into the second round.
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That pick is looking better and better by the day, as Woo has turned it up after a slow start to this season and is hovering around point-per-game territory – now at 38 points in 39 games.
That pace puts him ahead of other notable WHL alumni in their draft +1 seasons, such as Morgan Reilly, Travis Hamonic, and Matthew Dumba.
Was looking at previous defenders to play for the Moose Jaw Warriors and their stats and found this:
Travis Hamonic WHL PPG in D+1 season (2008-2009): 0.70
Morgan Reilly WHL PPG in D+1 season (2012-2013): 0.9
Jett Woo WHL PPG in D+1 season so far (2018-2019): 1.03#Canucks
— Tarunsir (@TarunistYT) January 1, 2019
Woo’s pace really saw a spike the day after being left off Team Canada’s World Junior camp roster in early December, a team also coached by his junior coach, Tim Hunter.
He had a goal and three assists in the Warriors’ next game, and has put up 22 points in 18 games since the snub.
He’s now among the highest-scoring defencemen in the WHL, ranking seventh in total points this season.
Of the six players with more points, only 2019-draft eligible Bowen Byram is younger than Woo.
All of this certainly bodes well for Woo’s chances of making the transition to the pro ranks when the time comes, especially when you remember that offence isn’t the main calling card to Woo’s game.
— Moose Jaw Warriors (@MJWARRIORS) November 6, 2018
For as polished as Woo can look at times, he’s still just 18 years old and – if he doesn’t make the Canucks out of camp next fall – will have one more season in Moose Jaw to refine his skills before making the transition to pro. He’ll be a strong candidate to make Canada’s World Junior team too.
That would likely be for the best, although between his amazing name, electrifying body checks, and the Canucks’ total lack of right-handed defencemen in the pipeline, it might be hard for fans to wait that long.