By: Joe Travia | Follow Me on Twitter @NHLJoeTravia
To put it lightly, the Bruins are a total mess as they head into the off-season. GM Don Sweeney doesn’t have a new contract. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy was just fired. Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk all had surgeries that will have them miss the start of next season. Mike Reilly had an ankle surgery. Franchise cornerstone Patrice Bergeron is still undecided on whether he will return to the team next season, and he himself had an elbow procedure done.
Oh yeah, let’s not forget about that little thing called the salary cap. Heading into the summer, the Bruins have only $3,183,333 million in space to make moves. While they can utilize trades, buyouts, and long-term injured reserve to free up some space, Don Sweeney (or whoever the GM is) will need to be creative and find some lower cost reinforcements that can change the identity of the team and help them keep pace in the loaded Eastern Conference.
While the Bruins will likely be priced out of more expensive options like Filip Forsberg and Nazem Kadri, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman dropped an interesting nugget on a podcast about potential RFA’s that teams may “walk away” from, making them Unrestricted Free Agents.
If you read my recent article on potential trade targets, you already know I am the conductor of the “Dylan Strome to Boston” train. It makes even more sense if he is allowed to get to unrestricted free agency and won’t cost an asset. The team could use a center with this sort of offensive talent.
However, the name that sticks out to me the most on that list is Miles Wood. Everything about Miles Wood just screams Boston Bruin. The 6’2, 195 pound Wood grew up locally and was a teammate of Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk in youth hockey. He went on to play high school hockey for Nobles and Greenough, a prep school located in Dedham. From there, he played one season at Boston College before turning pro. Wood would be the next in a long line of locally trained players, as guys like McAvoy, Grzelcyk, Charlie Coyle, Chris Wagner, and Marc McLaughlin followed similar routes to the NHL.
On the ice, a player of Wood’s profile is exactly what this Bruins team has been missing the last few years. Wood is a big, strong power forward with speed to burn and is not scared about getting into the dirty areas of the ice. Wood has what they call “functional toughness” in spades, an element that the Bruins have sorely lacked in the last few years.
Beyond all that, though, Wood would go a long way in helping to establish a return to the “Big, Bad Bruins” moniker that the organization has thrived on throughout their history. Since his high school days at Nobles (something I saw firsthand), Wood has used his speed to deliver thunderous hits on opposing defensemen. He also hasn’t been scared to drop the gloves at the NHL level, taking on many of the league’s heavyweights.
If there are any concerns with Wood, it’s his injury history. Hip surgery caused him to miss all but three games last season, and he has only played more than 70 games once in his six full professional seasons. With the team already riddled with injuries, they would need some severe assurances that his hip is healthy enough to commit salary cap space.
As an unrestricted free agent, Wood will probably want a slight raise from the $2.75 million cap hit he earned last year. Can the Bruins move off of Nick Foligno’s $3.8 million cap hit and allocate that towards Wood? They’d be getting younger, faster, tougher, and add some more potency to their offensive attack. Don Sweeney, or whoever ends up being General Manager of the Bruins, should absolutely consider it.