While the majority of restricted free agents this odd-season have been re-signed to new contracts, the outlook is not good for the handful of players that remain unsigned. The past week has revealed that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ William Nylander, the Anaheim Ducks’ Nick Ritchie, and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Shea Theodore are all far from a contract resolution with their respective teams. Add another to the list, as Devils beat writer Todd Cordell reports that New Jersey and RFA forward Miles Wood “aren’t talking” right now and appear far from agreeing to a new contract.
In fact, Cordell states that no progress has been made recently between the two sides and as of now no further talks are scheduled. It is a bleak outlook for both the team and player, especially since there is mutual interest in coming together on a deal. NJ.com’s Chris Ryan recently wrote that Wood was eager to get to camp and hoped for a resolution soon. However, in speaking with agent Peter Fish, Ryan echoes Cordell’s point that Fish and GM Ray Shero had not talked in some time. Even Cordell himself noted earlier this month that he expected a bridge deal between Wood and the Devils to be inked before camp, but that has not come to fruition.
If term isn’t the issue, then it is simply a disagreement on valuation that is holding up an extension. Wood, 23, set career-highs as a sophomore for the Devils last season. The big left winger out of Boston College recorded 19 goals and 32 points last year, nearly doubling up his rookie production in just 16 more games. Wood has certainly shown the potential to be a perennial 20-goal scorer and weapon on the power play. Yet, Wood has struggled to gain more responsibility under head coach John Hynes. Wood is not a particularly strong defensive forward and has mediocre possession statistics, not to mention a knack for taking detrimental penalties, indicating that he might just be a one-dimensional goal-scorer. His ice time would reflect that thought, as he saw fewer minutes last season than as a rookie at 12:28. This was the second-lowest average ice time of any regular New Jersey skater, with only Jimmy Hayes coming in behind him. As such, while the production looks good – fourth in goals, sixth in points in 2017-18 – and may continue to climb, the team may not see that translating into a larger role worth a larger salary. Therein lies that valuation issue that could keep Wood away from the Devils for a little while longer.