When you get into the later rounds of the NHL Draft, picking becomes more and more uncertain, so you're often forced to look at players who have some good tools but aren't necessarily the total package. Speed is often an attribute that teams will take a chance on, and USNTDP winger William Lockwood features that as one of his strengths. Could he be an option for New Jersey in the later rounds?
Who is William Lockwood?
William Lockwood is a forward coming out of the US National Team Development Program who will be joining the NCAA's Michigan Wolverines for the 2016-17 season. Lockwood, who is a native of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan was born in June of 1998, putting him on the younger side of this draft's first-year-eligible players. Lockwood is a bit on the small side at 5'-11" and 172 pounds but, being a winger, he can afford to be a little bit on the smaller side of the spectrum. He has now played two seasons with the USNTDP and his numbers from his career to this point can be found below, courtesy of Elite Prospects:
Strictly from a numbers perspective, Lockwood doesn't necessarily impress. His points totals from the USNTDP are middling at best and his numbers from before that in U16s, while good, aren't really otherworldly either. He's not incapable of scoring, with over half a point per game for the developmental team and a point-per-game at U-18 Worlds (though just one goal), and points don't always tell the whole story, but the totals aren't going to turn heads. As a player, one aspect of his game that gets a lot of praise is his speed. He has good speed and is willing to use it to be aggressive, which makes him a handful for opposing players. Lockwood doesn't have much in the way of size, but scouts say he is able to use his frame pretty effectively to cause chaos. The package of skills he has point to him being a player who could make some hay on the forecheck and be a disruptive force with a little bit of skill who can put up a few points at the next level.
Rankings-wise, Lockwood figures to land somewhere in the fourth round or later. In the rankings from the NHL's Central Scouting, he shows up at number 108 among North American skaters, which represented a pretty significant drop from his nicer midterm ranking of 69. Elsewhere, Lockwood ended up at number 105 in Steve Kournianos' final rankings at The Draft Analyst, number 92 in Craig Button's final list at TSN, and up at 76 in Corey Pronman's top 100 at ESPN.
What Others are Saying About William Lockwood
As Lockwood is one of the draft-eligible players headed to the NCAA, the folks over at SB Nation College hockey took an interest in him. Chris Dilks put together this solid profile of the USNTDP winger which included some of his more promising attributes as well as areas of weakness. First, some of the positives:
Speed is Lockwood's best asset. He's got light feet which gives him a very quick first step and above average straight-line speed. He doesn't always use that speed to his greatest advantage, but it could be a pro-level tool if he learns how to use it better.
Speed is never a bad asset for a player to have, and it seems like Lockwood has a decent amount of it. Dilks also praises Lockwood's motor, which, combined with that speed could theoretically make him a disruptive forechecker. Despite a points output for Lockwood that wasn't super impressive, Dilks does note that he has some decent finishing ability and could put some pucks in the net if he has a decent setup man.
On the flip side, Dilks also gets into some of the downsides for Lockwood. For instance, there's this bit on his ability to make plays:
Lockwood is much more likely to make a play with his feet than he is with his hands. That makes him a fairly one-dimensional offensive player, and is a bit concerning in regards to how he'll do when he reaches a level where everyone can skate well.
Now, obviously there are plenty of wingers who you wouldn't necessarily classify as playmakers, but you do still need to have some ability to make crisp passes move the puck to be effective in today's NHL, so that qualifies as a concern. It's also mentioned that he has some trouble winning puck battles, even when considering his smaller size, so he'd need to improve on that some. Ultimately, Dilks puts his maximum ceiling at a Carl Hagelin-type player, but more realistically projecting as a possible bottom-six guy with some speed.
Over at Hockey Prospectus, this profile on draft prospects from the USNTDP includes this excerpt on Lockwood:
Lockwood is a solid-average skater. He is a good penalty killer with a decent wall game. Although well undersized, he is generally a pretty physical player and a frequent hitter. Committed to the University of Michigan, he has low upside, but plays a coach friendly game.
So it's a slightly different take on Lockwood's abilities and one that has him being a little more effective in his physical game. It bolsters the thoughts that he could be an effective bottom-six player but also reinforces that his ceiling likely isn't all that high.
To drive the point home on Lockwood, we'll go to Steve Kournianos over at The Draft Analyst, who had this to say about the winger in his fourth round mock:
Lockwood is near the top of a decent list of draft-eligible sandpaper forwards thanks to excellent straight-line speed and a fearless mindset when engaging opposing skaters. He gets most of his points from a crash-and-bang style that would normally compliment line mates of the finesse variety. Lockwood, however, played most of the season with similar players, yet he was easily one of the NTDP’s most reliable and consistent in that regard.
So this sort of reiterates some of the positives on Lockwood's game. He is a forward with speed who is unafraid to throw his weight around on the ice, making him the type of guy who could be a very disruptive force for opponents. And with the right linemates he just might be able to chip in some points that would make him an ideal role player someday.
A Little Video
There isn't much out there in terms of video on Lockwood, particularly in the way of recent game action, but here are a couple short interviews with him from the beginning and end of the most recent USNTDP season:
And here are a couple of goals he helped set up on the rush for the Oakland Grizzlies U16 team way back in 2013. The second one is a pretty nifty play:
An Opinion of Sorts
William Lockwood has some assets that could make him an attractive pick in the later rounds of the draft, chief among those being his speed. He seems like a player who can put pressure on opponents with his speed and force mistakes through dogged pursuit and throwing his weight around. He also has some finishing ability and could put up some points if he's put in the right position. If he can round out his game just a little bit, he seems like he has a chance to be an effective bottom-six player in the NHL Maybe if his offensive game comes around a bit, he could even be a little more than that. The point totals are a bit concerning, though, and I remain uncertain how high his ceiling is. I don't think he's worth a reach earlier than the fourth round, but I could live with the Devils using one of their fourth-rounders on him, assuming there isn't an obvious pick that has slid from the earlier rounds out there. He may not be an obvious offensive threat by the numbers, but he has some speed, aggressiveness, and decent hands, making him a solid-enough option in the later rounds of a relatively thin draft.
So after reading about him, what do you think of William Lockwood? How would you feel if the Devils used one of their fourth-rounders on him? What about in the later rounds? Do you think he has a chance to make an NHL impact? Sound off with your thoughts below and thanks for reading.