We are now just three days away from the NHL draft. We continue our evaluation of players that the Washington Capitals could potentially pick with the eighth overall selection. Today we will look at forward Matt Wood.
MATTHEW WOOD – (18) – 6’3”- 190LBS, LW/C, UCONN (Hockey East, NCAA)
Wood was the youngest player in college hockey this year at 17-years-old. He just wrapped up his freshman campaign at the University of Connecticut, where he racked up 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 35 games.
Wood led the Huskies in both assists and points. The now 18-year-old was also named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team, and led Team Canada to the gold medal in the U18 World Championship with 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in seven games.
The year prior, he led the BCHL with 85 points (45 goals, 40 assists) with the Victoria Grizzlies.
Wood’s best asset is his shot. He has a wicked wrist shot that is powerful and he can pick corners from anywhere. His lethal one timer will help any team’s power play unit. The Lethbridge, Alberta native, is also a decent passer with a solid hockey IQ and slick hands, but he is definitely not classified as a playmaker.
Wood’s biggest weakness is his skating. He is slow on the rush and struggles on the backcheck because of his lack of speed and acceleration. This could be because of his 6-foot-3 frame. He also needs to improve his overall two-way game and compete level.
Craig Button of TSN has Wood going sixth to the Arizona Coyotes in his latest mock draft. That is quite surprising considering he is rated just outside the top 10.
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.
“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.”
Wood is a very gifted offensive player. He has excellent one-on-one skills and offensive IQ. He has the ability to hold onto pucks for an extra second and knows how to beat defenders with skill. He also has an excellent wrist shot and one-timer, making him a major asset on the power play. Wood is a big winger as well, so the size/skill combo has a lot of upside. However, his skating is an issue as he lacks the ability to separate and the pace of the NHL will challenge him. I wouldn’t call him an overly physical or high compete type, and I’ve seen him take nights off, but Wood is a big body who can use his frame to win battles and gets to the inside parts of the offensive zone well enough. I think he’ll be a quality top six winger who will be a big part of an NHL power play, but he may frustrate his coaches at times.
Bob McKenzie: 11
NHL Central Scouting: 4 (Among NA skaters)
By Jacob Cheris