2022-23 Team: University of Connecticut
Date of Birth: Feb. 6, 2005
Place of Birth: Lethbridge, AB, CAN
Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 193 pounds
Position: Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 8th (amongst NA skaters)
- The Hockey Writers (Horn): 18th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 18th
- FC Hockey: 27th
- TSN/McKenzie: 14th
- Elite Prospects: 28th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 24th
- Dobber Prospects: 22nd
- Sportsnet: 21st
- The Hockey News: 16th
Matthew Wood’s star began to rise last season as a member of the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) when he scored 45 goals and 85 points in only 46 games. Finishing with the most goals and points by a rookie and winning the Brett Hull Trophy as the BCHL’s top scorer and the Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy as the BCHL Rookie of the Year, he became a prospect to watch for the 2023 NHL Draft.
After dominating the BCHL, Wood decided to forgo joining the Sioux Falls Stampede (who drafted him 122nd overall in the 2021 United States Hockey League Futures Draft) and the Regina Pats (who chose him 41st overall in the 2020 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft) and challenge himself in the NCAA.
I just felt for me the extra strength development here [the NCAA], the extra time to get stronger and improve my game was the most valuable to me.– Matthew Wood
Similar to Fantilli of the Wolverines, Wood has exceeded everyone’s expectations and has become one of the best prospects the NCAA has to offer. While not at the same insane point pace as his counterpart in Michigan, he is a little under a point-a-game and currently as of March 11, 2023, leads his team in scoring with 33 points. As the youngest player in Division I college hockey, he has possibly been the biggest surprise in the NCAA this season.
I thought he was going to be good. I thought he’d certainly be a significant forward on our team. I did not think in February that he’d be leading our team in scoring at this point. So he’s exceeded my expectations.– Mike Cavanaugh, UConn head coach
Blessed with a 6-foot-4, 193-pound frame, scouts are already salivating at Wood’s ceiling in the NHL. Despite size being less of a factor in recent years with smaller forwards like Johnny Gaudreau, Brayden Point, and Patrick Kane dominating the competition, coaches and general managers still love a big man like Wood in their lineup. Along with his size, he also has soft hands and a lethal wrist shot that he isn’t afraid to unleash. Currently the team leader in shots, he has been held off the shot clock only once this season so far and is usually good for at least three a game. Needless to say, he doesn’t need to be told to shoot the puck.
Related: THW’s 2023 NHL Draft Guide
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Wood has also been a model of consistency in his freshman season as he’s never had a slump of more than two games and has recorded at least a point in 24 of his 34 games played. Usually, it takes a freshman until their sophomore season to acclimate to the rigors and challenges of the NCAA, so the fact that he has done it so quickly speaks to his maturity and commitment to improving his game.
That type of work ethic and maturity will go a long way when Wood makes it to the next level – be it the American Hockey League or the NHL – as coaches love it when they know what to expect from a player when he jumps over the boards. He still has a very raw package and will need to continue to work on his acceleration, but I have no doubt he will refine all his tools in the future given how hard he works on and off the ice.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Matthew Wood – NHL Draft Projection
Wood is all over the board in the industry at this point as he’s ranked as high as 14th by Bob McKenzie and as low as 28th by Elite Prospects. He will more than likely go in the mid-range of the first round around 15-20, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a team like the Philadelphia Flyers use a lottery pick on him due to his size.
“I’d like to think I’m responsible on the defensive side of the puck. I definitely don’t take that aspect of the game lightly…I would say if you were gonna say one skill of mine that stands out, it would be my shot, but I have a lot of other aspects that if you really watch my game wouldn’t stand out as well.” – Matthew Wood speaking to FC Hockey
“Wood is one of the best pure goal-scorers in the draft this year. The tall, rangy winger has an elite shot and a knack for scoring goals at a high rate. His release is extremely quick and he gets lots of power behind every shot. Wood’s ability to find the back of the net also stems from his high-end hands and IQ with the puck. He’s got a long reach and a good active stick, and can find passing and shooting lanes well, but he’s got to improve his speed, mobility and two-way game.” – Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
“Wood is a natural goal scorer. He has an outstanding wrist shot and a very quick release. He also has a good one-timer, snapshot and backhand. Wood can also use his big body to establish his position in front of the net and score goals in tight. His hands are quick and he can make a quick move on a goalie, pounce on a rebound, or get a deflection.” – Ben Kerr, LWOS
- Wrist shot
- Hands in tight
- Puck handling
- Hockey IQ
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Two-way game
Wood has the potential to be an impactful scoring winger at the NHL level one day. Favorably compared to Buffalo Sabres star Tage Thompson by Central Scouting senior manager David Gregory, his shot alone will notch him at least a few 30-goal seasons.
There’s a lot of Tage Thompson (Buffalo Sabres) comparisons, especially since both went to UConn…Both of them are not going to look like the Energizer Bunny, having that quick twitch, but they’ve got the longer stride. Matthew thinks it well. He’s got good edges. I think the power and strength will come…
Wood also compares his game to that of Evgeni Malkin and Mikko Rantanen. Again, not big-time speedsters but one-shot scorers with size and silky-smooth hands.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defence – 6/10
Wood played for Team Canada at the 2023 Hlinka/Gretzky Cup and won a gold medal after two goals and five points in five games. He was also recently named to the 2022-23 Pro Ambitions Hockey East All-Rookie Team alongside Lane Hutson, Kenny Connors, Hunter McDonald, Cutter Gauthier, Ryan Greene, and Cam Lund.