After an injury plagued season, Miles Wood is a restricted free agent. Let’s think about what his next contract may look like.
Before the regular season began, it was announced that Miles Wood had some “bumps and bruises” that would keep him out of action to start the season. Wood was out for weeks before it was announced that he needed hip surgery that would keep him off the ice for an extended period of time. He was able to briefly return to the Devils lineup for three games in March and April but wasn’t able to find the score sheet before the pain in his hip returned and he missed the remainder of the season. This season, unfortunately lost to injury, was the last season in a four year contract worth $2.75 million per season. How did that contract work out and is Miles Wood due a significant pay raise or worthy of a longer term deal?
In the three years that Wood was under his last contract, before the hip injury, Wood scored 10 goals in 63 games, 11 goals in 68 games, and 17 goals in 55 games. In those three seasons, Wood averaged between 13-15 minutes of ice time per game, playing mostly in the bottom six and occasionally in front of the net on the power play. Wood is known for his blazing skating speed (as shown in the video above) and his physical play. In both of the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons, Wood was third on the team in hits with 97 and 102 respectively. Coming off of a serious injury to his lower body, it is tough to say what we can expect from Wood in the years to come. When he returned for those three games last season, Wood showed flashes of the best version of himself, despite failing to find the score sheet. However, he also couldn’t maintain it and returned to the IR shortly after returning. So if Wood can’t rely on his speed to set him apart, and cant handle being one of the more physical players on the ice anymore, that would pretty much eliminate him as a regular NHL player.
Coming off of a four year deal where two years were disappointing and one was ruined by injury, there is no solid justification to give Wood a long or expensive deal. I would be happy if the Devils could sign Wood to a three year deal worth around $3.5 million per season, but not much more than that. When Wood is at his best, he adds a mix of speed and physicality that no one else on the Devils has. He has scored 17 goals or more in two seasons so far in his career, 2017-18 and 2020-2021, which shows he can be a valuable bottom six forward. The potential of the best version of Miles Wood returning would be worth that cap hit, especially for a team that has no shortage of cap space for the next few years. With the Devils top six (hopefully) set for the years to come with Hughes, Hischier, Bratt, Sharangovich, Mercer and maybe Holtz or Zetterlund, the Devils need reliable players in the bottom six who can bring a more physical, tough to play against dimension to the team. Wood can bring that. Also, being 26 years old and a veteran of 326 NHL games, Wood is older and more experienced than much of the Devils current roster, meaning he can fill a leadership role on the team for a few years while the stars on the team continue to grow. I hope to see Wood stick around in New Jersey for at least a few more years and score some goals while punching other guys in the face.
Follow me on Twitter at PatBoooooth