New Jersey Devils: Is Miles Wood Good? No, Really, Is Miles Wood Good?

Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils have had a surprise contribution from left wing Miles Wood early in the season. After points in three-straight games, national media members are starting to notice.

There was a lot about the New Jersey Devils hot start that could have been predicted. Jack Hughes playing well was on a lot of people’s radar, especially after gaining a ton of weight over the offseason. Mackenzie Blackwood was getting whispers in the Calder Trophy voting process last season, and his tandem with Corey Crawford was supposed to be great. Even when Crawford surprisingly retired, many still had faith in Blackwood carrying the load. Now, one thing most didn’t expect was Miles Wood to come out and perform offensively in the new Lindy Ruff system. Although, when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

Ruff’s system was always going to be high tempo. High tempo is basically how Wood plays every shift. Sometimes it works out really well, but in a system like John Hynes’, it didn’t always work out in his favor.

This season, however, Wood is breaking out in a big way. In three games, he has four points in three games, which includes goals in every single game. On Tuesday night, he scored a fluky goal off a beautiful pass from Hughes. The puck might have gone off his foot, but it counts all the same. His other two goals were much prettier.

Wood’s speed always made him someone the Devils hoped would break out. After his 19-goal season in 2017-18, they signed him to a four-year deal thinking they were saving money down the line. He was awful for the next two seasons. Honestly, there were times he was unplayable. Coming into this season, many Devils fans expected him to lose ice time due to his decision making, but the opposite has been happening. He did take two bad penalties on opening night, but he claims he learned his lesson.

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The way the national hockey media is looking at Wood is interesting. On Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts blog, he wrote about Wood’s bounce-back season. He reported the Devils put him on the trade market after last season, but it is clear nobody was biting on him. However, to already give him praise show how people look at him across hockey.

So, the question remains, is Miles Wood a good hockey player? For all his flaws, when he’s at his best, he’s hard to stop. He can run to the net with the best of them. He just can’t stop. Will that be enough to contribute in the long term? Are the Devils better off trying to trade him midseason when his value is at its highest?

During his disastrous 2019-20 season, Wood still had a four points in three games streak. From January 11th to the 14th, he scored two goals and two assists against the Maple Leafs, Capitals, and Lightning. He scored against three powerhouse teams. However, he didn’t do much else last season. This year just feels different.

Wood is only 25 years old. It feels like he should be closer to 30, but he should be hitting his prime now. He’s been in the league for four full seasons. This is going to be season number five. The Devils have to decide whether or not Wood is good because the Seattle Kraken expansion draft is around the corner. He seemed like a prime candidate to head to a new team. Now, those expectations are up in the air. If he keeps rising his value, and Wood ends up being the player to leave, it saves a lot of other young players on the Devils. If the Devils trade him, then they probably sell him off at his highest value.

If Wood can play even at 80 percent of what he’s playing now, he’s a good player. If he can cut down his minor penalties to one per week (one two-minute minor every three games), then the positives will outweigh the negatives.