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The Miles Wood Conundrum

Polarizing New Jersey Devils wingers Miles Wood is having himself an excellent season on a bad team. With the intangibles he brings and just one season left on his current deal, does the team try to cash in?

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Depending upon who you ask among New Jersey Devils fans, the team may or may not have a Miles Wood problem. Wood, now in his fifth season with the club and has posted great goal numbers (assists not so much) for a group that has been mostly allergic to scoring. So what’s the problem, the lack of assists? Not exactly.

Some fans see Wood as an energy player whose speed, toughness and scoring all check boxes of need for the Devils. Others will drag him, citing that he makes some boneheaded plays, while also claiming that his body is moving faster than his mind. So which side does the truth lie with? Is it somewhere in between? IS Miles Wood a core piece moving forward for this franchise? Let’s take a quick look at all of that.

So far in his career, Miles Wood has appeared in 321 games, notching 65 goals and adding 56 assists for a 121 point total. Now the numbers aren’t eye-popping, maybe not even average, but Wood has looked like a more confident player this year, and he has also made better use of the skills he has, which certainly could not be said for the past pair of seasons. For this reason I can see validity to both sides of the argument: Wood is bringing aspects of the game that the team needs, but the worry of him slipping back to the totals from 2018-19 and 2019-20 is very real.

Due to that concern, the bigger point of contention with Wood seems to be that some (many?) believe his value is currently the highest it will ever be. With the team still not in a position to compete, that part of the fanbase wants Wood moved for more future assets. My assumption here would be that they believe he will regress back to the past two seasons and become a player the Devils want to move on from; if the team waits and he regresses, the return obviously diminishes.

Miles may not be the most important Devil on the ice on any given night, but I argue the skills he brings that the team does not possess elsewhere makes him worth the risk of keeping around. I don’t think he would bring back a Blake Coleman-esque return, and anything less than that would not be worth moving Wood for. Wood also currently had an A added to his sweater, so there are other qualities he is bringing to the team that we outside of the locker room aren’t privy to.

I can also understand the contract concerns; with just one season left before he might ask for a large salary increase, the time is right to send Miles to a contending team that could use his services for next season. While the flat cap and expansion draft are probably two hurdles for that, I also don’t know if the Devils see if that way. Salary is not an issue for this team right now, and a modest increase for Wood isn’t going to break the structure. Additionally, if it seems like he will be asking for too much, the team could always move him at the next trade deadline if they are still not contending.

Overall, while I think the truth of the Miles Wood conundrum does lies somewhere in the middle, I also tend to skew more towards his positives. I think Wood is the perfect Bottom-6 style forward for the type of hockey the Devils are trying to play. I also believe that he is not one of the team’s problem, and that by trading him, it would only create another hole for the club to fill, rather than bringing back the necessary assets to close one of the already existing holes.

Is Wood a core player that will wind up being a career or near-career Devil? Probably not, BUT he is bringing many positive aspects of the game that the team just cannot seem to find anywhere else right now. I apologize to the Miles Wood haters in advance here, but until the team finds an available upgrade on him, I think it’s for the best if he sticks around.

What are your thoughts on Miles Wood; do you believe he brings more positive than negative? Is he someone you want traded for future assets? Do you believe he can sustain his scoring pace from this season going forward? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!