Today we learned Devils Forward Miles Wood is expected to rejoin the team in the 7-10 days.
When asked about Wood’s availability, head coach Lindy Ruff said, “hopeful he can return to full practice within the next seven to ten days.”
Wood has yet to play this regular season as he suffered a hip injury during a preseason bout against the Washington Capitals. After a month of Devils fans being told Wood was day to day, he got hip surgery a month later.
What does this mean for the Devils?
Well, for starters, the Devils lack size and physicality. Now they’re getting back a 6’2, 195 body who isn’t afraid to play a hard-nosed style of hockey.
Outside of Nate Bastian and Mikey McLeod, there isn’t much weight being thrown around, but now throw Wood into the mix, and we get the BMW line back in action. Last season, during some of the Devils’ most successful stretches, the BMW line was their identity line. They were getting a lot of comparisons to the Islanders’ identity line of Cizikas, Martin, and Clutterbuck.
They also get back one of the bigger voices in the room as Wood was given the alternate captain patch.
Of course, you can’t forget Wood was tied for the team lead in goals last season with 17. Not that the Devils struggle scoring goals, but it’s never a bad thing getting more, especially with the Devils goaltending situation. A fourth-liner who was on pace for 25 goals is an extremely rare sight in the NHL.
Who is coming out?
With Wood returning to the lineup means someone is leaving the lineup, but the question becomes, who? I wouldn’t say anyone deserves to come out, but winger Tomas Tatar seems to make the most sense. Tatar was supposed to be the top six winger the Devils desperately needed, yet he’s been anything but. He currently has 22 points in 53 games, which is the least among forwards not on the fourth line. Tatar is no stranger to being a healthy scratch, as he earned that honor in Vegas and Montreal. However, at least he had an impressive point total in Montreal; here in New Jersey, it seems he gets as many chances as anyone and misses the net more than anyone.
Another option is trading Zacha. If they deal Zacha, who has been rumored to be on the trade block, nobody has to come out of the lineup. However, if Zacha remains a Devil, there is no way you can scratch him, he may not bring much effort, but he still has one of the best shots on the team.
You’re not taking out Jesper Boqvist. He’s played well with the big club and still has the potential to become a piece for this Devils team. Nor are you taking out Vesey, Bastian, or Johnsson.
Look ahead to next week
The Devils are back in the Garden State and will be here all week. They have three games against western conference opponents: Colorado, Winnipeg, and Anaheim. They have yet to play Colorado this season, and they’ve already played and lost to both Winnipeg and Anaheim. Thursday’s game against the Jets will be Travis Zajac night. Saturday night’s game against the Ducks is Mackenzie Blackwood bobblehead night. The Devils have been playing some good hockey over the last week, and I expect that to continue for this stretch.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images