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There were no shortage of pleasant surprises for the New Jersey Devils in 2017-18.
From Blake Coleman to Keith Kinkaid to Will Butcher, a lot of guys stepped up and contributed much more than anyone would have expected prior to the season.
Right in the mix with those players was Miles Wood.
As a rookie in 2016-17, Wood's play left a lot to be desired. It was evident he had the tools needed to become a solid NHL player but, well, he was far from it.
His counting totals – eight goals and 17 points in 60 games – were OK, although they didn't pop off the page by any stretch. His underlying numbers painted an uglier picture.
With Wood on the ice at 5v5, the Devils controlled 41.42% of the shot attempts and 35.56% of the goals. Suffice to say, they were a much better team when he was on the bench.
Given the talent, or lack thereof, on the roster, it was discouraging and almost shocking how drastic the difference was.
But what a difference a year makes.
This past season the Devils controlled better than 50% of the shot attempts and were expected to score 51.81% of the goals with Wood on the ice. Both totals were well above team average, meaning they fared noticeably worse while he was on the bench catching a breather.
Production wise, Wood took an equally large step forward. He went from averaging .13 goals per game and .28 points per game to .25 goals per game and .42 points per game. This despite having his ice time cut
by ~25 seconds per game.
Wood was an efficient scorer. Very efficient. He averaged 1.11 goals per 60 minutes played at 5v5, which tied him with Rickard Rakell and Alex DeBrincat for 23rd(!) in the NHL. Some notables to score at lesser clips include Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Jack Eichel, and Phil Kessel, to name but a few. Not bad.
Wood's raw total of 16 5v5 goals tied him for 56th in the NHL with the likes of Mathew Barzal, Tyler Seguin, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Marchessault, all of whom played hundreds more minutes than Wood did – and with better linemates to boot (Wood spent the most time with Pavel Zacha and, uh, Brian Boyle).
He's far from a perfect NHL player – discipline remains an issue and, like most scorers, he can be streaky – but he is now an effective NHL player and, at just 22, there is still room for growth.
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