New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood suffered an injury to his right hip on Oct. 4, 2021, during a preseason game against the Washington Capitals. After considering his options he chose to have surgery. Dr. Bryan Kelly of the Hospital for Special Surgery will treat Wood, who will be out of the lineup indefinitely.
“Obviously, he is disappointed. He was really looking forward to this year,” said head coach Lindy Ruff. “Having this coming up is part of the game. Woody on the ice is better than Woody in the locker room, not to discredit him in the locker room. That speed on the ice and the way he can back teams off. It puts a lot of pressure on the other team’s defense. Part of our speed game is missing without Miles in the lineup. That’s the part that we miss the most, and his leadership inside the room.”
Wood has been utilized as a bottom-six forward, but he has been a real asset to the team. His speed and voice in the locker room will be difficult to replace, and his scoring and offensive presence has improved season after season and will be missed while he recovers.
Devils Need Wood’s Speed
As Ruff mentioned, Wood’s biggest asset is his speed. He has the ability to get the puck on a partial breakaway by beating out his opponents. All of his success can be credited to how quickly moves around the ice, and he has flourished under Ruff.
“John Hynes was much more structured in the defensive zone. I’m not saying Coach Ruff is not structured, but it gives the forwards more freedom to play with more speed,” Wood told THW. “That’s certainly part of my game. I guess you could say is the best part of my game is my speed. Playing in a faster system like Coach Ruff has certainly helped me out a lot.”
Devils Miss Wood’s Offensive Contributions
Last season, Wood played 55 games for 25 points, and his 17 goals, tied with Pavel Zacha, led the team. His shooting percentage was 13.4, a career-high for the Buffalo, NY native. He also scored three power-play goals. The Devils have missed his net-front presence this season. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, he provides a perfect screen, which has also been missing from the Devils’ game. That’s not to say their power play would be top 10 in the league with Wood, but it might not be ranked 30th.
Devils Will Miss Wood’s Leadership
Wood is the second longest-tenured Devil on the team after Damon Severson. At the beginning of last season, Wood stood at the Prudential Center podium and expressed his excitement about playing for a new coach and learning a new system:
“I’m super excited for it,” said Wood. “Personally, I think I’m going to put more pressure on myself, on and off the ice this year to make a greater impact on the team. It’s crazy to think, but I’ve been here for five years now and time flies. I think this year it’s time to grow up and not be the young kid in the room and I’m certainly looking forward to that challenge.”
After the departure of veterans Travis Zajac, Cory Schneider, and Andy Greene, Wood stepped into a leadership role. The 26-year-old has become more vocal in the locker room and was named an alternate captain. It’s is a tough blow for the Devils as they try to find players to step up in Wood’s absence. The team misses his speed, and with Jack Hughes out as well, the team has a big void to fill. Fingers crossed, Wood returns sooner rather than later. His team needs him.