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Predators’ 2023 First-Rounder Matthew Wood Entering Transfer Portal



Matthew Wood
Photo of Matthew Wood by Casey Gower for Nashville Hockey Now

Nashville Predators 2023 first-round pick Matthew Wood has two years of college of eligibility left, but he won’t be spending that at the University of Connecticut.

The 19-year-old forward is reportedly entering the NCAA transfer portal, according to Daniel Connolly of the UConn Blog. The 6-foot-3 winger is sure to have a long list of potential suitors, and Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota are reportedly in the running to land him per’s Mark Divver.

The Huskies went 15-19-2 this year, losing to Boston College in the semifinal round of the Hockey East Tournament, and missing out on the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota all qualified for the NCAA tourney, with the Gophers advancing to the quarterfinal round before being eliminated by No. 2 seed Boston University.

Wood, the 15th overall pick of the 2023 draft, led the Huskies with 16 goals and 28 points in 35 games this season. He logged a team-high 128 shots, three power-play goals and three game-winning goals.

His stats dipped a bit from his breakout freshman season in 2022, in which he scored 11 goals and 34 points in 35 games and he was a finalist for Hockey East Rookie of the Year award, though he was a unanimous Pro-Ambitions All-Rookie Team selection and he became the highest draft pick in UConn history.

“The things that [Wood] has that you can’t teach are the shot and the IQ,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said of Wood back in January. “He is such a smart player, and I think that’s what, when he finally fills out and becomes a man, those are the things that will propel him to be a great NHL hockey player.”

Wood projects as a top-six forward with dynamic scoring ability, and his pro comparison is Buffalo’s Tage Thompson. The two players have similar builds — Wood is 6-foot-4 and just shy of 200 pounds while Thompson is 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds — with heavy shots and excellent hockey IQ.

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