Michigan’s leading goal scorer from the 2018-19 season will return for his senior year, a team spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday morning.
Junior forward Will Lockwood was in discussion with the Vancouver Canucks to forego his senior year and join the professional ranks, but he elected to return to the Wolverines for a final year.
The Canucks drafted Lockwood in the third round of the 2016 entry draft with the 64th overall pick.
In his first two years at Michigan, Lockwood battled shoulder injuries that left him unable to reach his full potential. A dislocated shoulder his freshman season caused him trouble for most of the second half of that year. In his sophomore year, Lockwood suffered a season-ending shoulder injury while competing for the United States at the World Junior Championships in January of 2018.
But in his third season, Lockwood worked his way back to full health and was a valuable offensive threat for the Wolverines. He played in all 36 games and tallied 31 points, good for second on the team and just two points behind Quinn Hughes, who signed with Vancouver on March 10.
Lockwood’s 16 goals — five more than junior forwards Nick Pastujov and Jake Slaker, who tied for second in goal scoring — led the team. Six of those tallies came on the power play, which made Lockwood the team’s leader in man-advantage goals.
His goal-scoring acumen also left him ranked second on the team in plus-minus with a plus-eight rating, just behind freshman defenseman Nick Blankenburg at plus-11.
After the Wolverines’ season ended in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, attention turned to Michigan’s group of underclassmen NHL draft picks and their imminent decisions. Hughes chose to depart after his sophomore season for the NHL, but Lockwood returning gives the Wolverines one of their top offensive threats back for next season.
If junior defenseman Luke Martin and sophomore forward Josh Norris also choose to return, Michigan could be in position to return to its form from the 2017-18 season — when the Wolverines made the Frozen Four.