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ANALYSIS: What To Make Of That (Long) Miles Wood Contract



Avalanche Miles Wood

The full details of the Miles Wood contract are in, and the Colorado Avalanche must really like him.

Really, really like him.

And by full contract details, I mean clauses and things like that. Because yes, the Avalanche did give him a no-trade clause. It’s modified and only includes 6 teams, but it’s still there. Here are the full details of the contract.

Now, a 6 team no trade clause isn’t really that big of a deal. 6 teams isn’t even 20% of the league, so it doesn’t close a ton of options (if it ever gets to that point). It’s just more the fact that it was included to begin with, because this contract already came with some question marks.

Let’s dig in.

The Numbers

JFresh Miles Wood Avalanche

Miles Wood Underlyings

The first thing that jumps out…he’s not very good in his own end. This will be interesting to watch, because the same metrics show Ross Colton is only slightly better than Wood in that area. The belief right now is that the two of them will play on a line together. Whoever fills in that third spot remains to be seen, because the Avalanche likely aren’t done just yet, but it might just have to be someone who can handle themselves a bit defensively.

What Wood does really well, much like Colton, is he generates a lot of shots. Granted, he’s not exactly the best at finishing those chances, but he creates a fair bit. If you look at the numbers on the New Jersey Devils, only Jack Hughes and Timo Meier generated more shots-per-60 than Wood. On the Avalanche, it was only MacKinnon.

For the last week, it’s been extremely clear what the goal of the Colorado front office has been – change the make-up of the bottom six. They got very little offense from their bottom six for the majority of last season, and it killed them in the postseason. And offense doesn’t just mean goals. You need your bottom six to at least generate chances at the other end to take a little pressure off the top players. Based on the numbers, Wood and Colton are pretty big upgrades on what the Avalanche had last season.

Production-wise, Wood will need to score a little more, as he’s only hit 30 points once. One way that will likely come is through more ice-time, as he was 12th on the Devils in average time-on-ice for their forwards. His points-per-60 was strong at 1.76, which would have been 5th best on the Avalanche. They’re clearly banking on him taking a step with a bigger role.

One area where Wood will really need to improve is with discipline. He takes a lot of penalties, and we know Bednar is not going to put up with that. Mikko Rantanen was pretty undisciplined last season, but even he averaged only 1.33 penalties-per-60 compared to Wood’s 1.54. That number just simply has to come down, because it would be fair to assume the Avalanche plan to play him more than the 10:47 he averaged at even strength last year in New Jersey.

The other thing that’s interesting about Wood is that, like Colton, he is not a penalty killer. To commit to a bottom six forward for 6 seasons, you usually want them to have some value on the penalty kill. Wood does not have that. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Avalanche try to mold him into one, but as of right now, he hasn’t shown, or been given the chance to show, he has that ability.

The Fit

Wood is a tremendous skater, especially when you consider he’s got good size at 6’2″, 200 pounds. There is no question that part of his game will be a fit in Colorado. However, one of the concerns Devils fans had with his game last year was that he didn’t look quite the same after surgery on his right hip knocked him out for almost all of the 2021-22 season. James Nichols from New Jersey Hockey Now says otherwise, telling me he was still the fastest guy on the team.

If that surgery ultimately has changed his play, that’s an issue. However, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if his burst continues to come back the further he gets from that surgery. That happens a lot with major surgeries, and Wood is still only 27.

Wood is also a tremendous forechecker, as the numbers (which I don’t have handy) show that he’s fantastic on puck retrievals and pressuring the opposition. Alongside Colton, they could cause a lot of havoc in the offensive zone. If Logan O’Connor ultimately ends up on the other wing, then you’ve got three guys who will create nightmares for the opposition the forecheck.

When you combine Wood’s ability to skate, forecheck, and generate shots, it’s pretty easy to see why Colorado targeted him. And from what I’m told, the feeling was mutual. Wood wanted to be in Colorado well before free agency opened.

The big question for Wood (and Colton, really) will be how he handles defensive responsibilities. The Devils didn’t exactly shelter him, and that probably won’t change in Colorado. How that duo handles some defensive duties will be something to watch next year, because one should realistically expect their ice time to go up on their new squad.

The Contract

The reality is we won’t be able to talk about Wood without talking about the contract the Avalanche gave him. Like I said earlier, the modified NTC doesn’t bother me much, as it’s so few teams. I’m not sure why they needed to add it, but it’s not a big deal. And $2.5 million a year for a third liner isn’t exactly breaking the bank.

But we all know how they got to that number, and it’s the 6-year term. And 6 years for a bottom six forward who has never reached the 20 goal mark is a lot. Too much, if you ask me.

The Avalanche are putting a lot of faith in a player who has hit 30 points just once, and even that was 5 years ago. I get why they did it, because they needed to get the cap hit down, but bottom six players come and go in the NHL. The long-term deals in the 6,7 and 8 year range should be reserved for core players that you’re trying to lock down for a long time. Not for bottom six players, who are usually replaceable.

The Verdict: C

When you dig into everything, it’s easy to see why the Avalanche targeted Wood. For how they play, he’s a stylistic fit. But is that a good enough reason to commit to him for 6 years? I lean towards no. It won’t take much for him to live up to a $2.5 million cap hit, but that’s the case for a lot of bottom six forwards, and they aren’t getting 6 year deals.

I would love to be able to separate the player from the contract, but in a salary cap world, that’s very difficult to do. The player isn’t perfect, but he should be a fit. His AAV is reasonable, but the term is kind of ugly. All in all, it’s just okay.

And that’s what you see a lot of on the first day of free agency.

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