With the Devils recently signing Blake Coleman, Stefan Noesen and Nick Lappin, their housekeeping with regards to RFA’s is almost complete – Miles Wood and Steven Santini are the two players that are still in need of contracts. Santini split the past two seasons between the NHL and AHL, and is most likely looking at a small bridge deal. As he’s no longer waiver exempt for this upcoming season, Santini may be in the NHL full time this year but whether he regularly plays remains to be seen. Wood on the other hand is an incredibly interesting case as far as RFAs.
The very speedy winger, who was playing high school hockey merely four years ago, improved exponentially from his first to second season. During his rookie campaign, Wood was pretty much a one-trick pony in that he used his incredible speed to enter the offensive zone and create chances off of the rush. Although that aspect of his game was still there last season, Wood’s playing style evolved and he became more well-rounded in the offensive zone. Using his big body effectively along the boards, and vision to set up his teammates from the corners or keep the play alive, Miles was a handful for teams to keep track.
On the surface Wood’s 32-point, and near-20-goal, season was a nice jump from the year prior where he only had 17 points. It’s when we dig deeper into the underlying numbers that truly show the improvement Wood made.
Graph via Bill Comeau (@billius27)
Using the same graph we used to show Noesen and Coleman’s progression, we can see the visuals from Wood’s year-over-year results are even more staggering. Wood improved significantly in nearly every metric. The results under ON-ICE are the most telling, especially looking at his Relative CF% and Expected GF%. Wood went from the third percentile all the way to the 74th percentile in the former (going from -7.480 to 2.070 Relative CF%), and then from the 23rd to 64th percentile (jumping from 46.43 to 51.63 xGF%). That’s from one season of improvement—and Wood will only be 23 when next season starts—so he (theoretically) as more room to improve.
As far as what Wood’s next contract may look like, it will probably be a one or two-year deal so both he and the Devils can continue to see how he develops, and what he may truly be worth moving forward. An interesting project recently released from Owen Kewell (@owenkewell) allows us to see what some offensive and defensive comparables look like for Miles—or any player for that matter.
First off, it’s kind of funny that Zacha is the most comparable to Wood defensively in this model. From the list above, most of the players Wood compares to are making anywhere from $1.85M to $3M on short-term contracts. While a two-year $3M contract may be reasonable for Wood, I think Shero will try to negotiate that price down a little lower. To make a guess as to what that may look like, I’d say Wood’s contract may be a one or two-year deal worth roughly $2.25M, which would be fair for what Wood has done so far in the NHL. No matter what Wood and the Devils end up settling on, it’s safe to say we’ve only seen Wood scratch the surface as far as his potential goes and as a Devils’ fan it’ll be very exciting to see how good he can be.