Canucks: A deep dive on defenceman prospect Jett Woo

Jett Woo should be a big part of the Vancouver Canucks’ blue line one day. Here is a deep dive on the 19-year-old blueliner.

Jett Woo grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba dabbling in a few sports, but his biggest passion was always the game of hockey.

Speaking with Chris Faber of Canucks Army (subscription required for the interview), Woo said that he chose hockey at a young age, with his dad helping out as a coach. In regards to choosing defence, Woo said, “I would rather have that pride of making sure they don’t score, than actually scoring myself.”

Woo was drafted fourth overall by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2015 Bantam Draft. He also happens to wear No. 4 for the WHL club.

In a “Getting to Know You” segment for Canucks TV, Woo said he wears number four because of his two hockey heroes, one being Bobby Orr and the other being Shea Weber. Woo wants to model his game after the latter, too.

While Woo probably won’t have Weber’s rocket of a slap shot, he could still bring that same physical edge.

Woo signed with the Warriors shortly after being drafted, and he played seven regular season games with them, recording one assist. Moose Jaw qualified for the playoffs that year, and Woo had one assist in the five games.

The biggest thing I took away from him in that first year wasn’t what he did on the ice, but what he had to say off of it. In his second preseason game with the team, Woo scored two goals in the third to tie the game, with the Warriors eventually loosing in the shootout.

In a post-game interview, Woo stressed the importance of helping the team, rather than focus on his individual stats.

“I mean, our team needed them. Obviously I want to score as many as I can, but it means nothing without the win.”

It showed from an early age that Woo has some leadership tendencies and he cares more about the win than his points. In the interview, he was asked about the physical play.

“It’s one of my favorite parts of the game…the contact, the hatred…so no I mean it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.”

This statement sets up what kind of player Woo would be. He played that season with the MAAA U18 Winnipeg Wild, posting six goals and 21 assists in the 22 games, leading them to the championship.

Breaking down the numbers

The graph below shows how well Woo did performed 5-on-5 over his four full seasons with the WHL. Let’s first look at what he did at even strength.

Every year, his even-strength goals went up with the exception of the 2019-20 campaign. There are a few reasons that contributed to the downturn.

The first was his shooting percentage every year leading up to the 2019-2020 season Woo was averaging around 10 percent. This year with the Calgary Hitmen, it dropped down to 4.9 percent.

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Playing with the Hitmen, Woo also had more of a defensive role, and he didn’t pinch down as far as compared to when he was with Moose Jaw.

While the assist numbers were similar to previous years, the biggest difference between this year and last year in terms of point production came on the power play.

In the 2018-2019 season, Woo had an impressive 66 points in 62 games, with 54 of those coming in assists. There was bound to be a bit of a downturn.

For the 2019-20 season, Woo had 46 points in 64 games.

Woo at the international level

Woo was on the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics where he was an assistant captain on Team Canada, leading them to a silver medal.

He played in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2017 for Team Canada as well, helping Canada win it all. Woo provided a much-needed physical presence throughout the tournament.

Final thoughts

There were a few things that Woo improved on this year. One was his vision to find teammates, especially with cross-seam passes in the offensive zone and being able to make the first past out of the defensive end.

Another was his speed and acceleration up and down the ice; he was able to push past players if there but also able to hold opponents down going through the neutral zone. Like every other year, Woo’s best skill set was his physical one.

While Woo does a lot of things well, there are still some things he can work on. The thing I noticed the most about Woo is he watches the puck when he’s in front of his net and will sometimes lose track of his defensive assignment.

He still needs to work on clearing the puck better when being pressured by forecheckers. And while this year he had his highest shot total on the net, he still tends to shoot wide or it gets blocked in front. Accuracy improvement is a must.

While I expect him to play for the Utica Comets next year, I believe there will be a limited number of minutes for Woo.

Next: Canucks: Wingers that are mid-round draft targets

I would like to once again say thank you to Faber who offered the interview with Woo from the goodness in his heart.  It’ll be exciting to see how Woo progresses in 2020-21, and the future of  the Canucks’ blue line is more than promising.

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