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2018 NHL Draft prospect profile: Bode Wilde’s offensive output masks a few issues with his game

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Wilde is a highly touted defenceman in this draft, but there should be concerns about his decision-making.

USHL Fall Classic - Day 3 Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Bode Wilde. There is not a more fitting name for a player in all of hockey right now.

The offensive defenceman has stood out this season for his abilities, something for which he is regarded highly in this upcoming draft, but also for his propensity to go all-in on the offence at every occasion.

Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec
Date of birth: January 24, 2000
Shoots: Right
Position: Defence
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 196 lbs.
Team: USNTDP

This has led him to record 41 points in 61 games playing for the U.S National Under-18 Team, where he finished at the top for production among defencemen, 10 points ahead of his closest following teammate on the back end, Mattias Samuelsson.

Image credit: EliteProspects

The skill of the Montreal-born defenceman is undeniable. He has an impressive set of hands that allows him to waltz through heavy traffic. He can adjust very quickly on the rush to go through opposing defences, take advantage of any gap at the offensive blue line to get in the zone, and make highlight-reel plays happen.

He is a great skater in all facets. He’s agile, speedy, and displays a good acceleration; all qualities that push his offensive prowess to the next level and allow him to pivot and come back on defence just as easily.

His strength on his skates also allows him to go for his one-on-one move and not get knocked out. He can also recover his balance easily after having barely slipped through a hole between two defenders to create a scoring chance.

He has a great shot. He can release a hard slapshot or skate to the top of the circle to snipe in a wrister that is just as powerful. He won't release into the shin pads of defenders, but instead makes sure he has a lane to fire in. Wilde led his team in goals from the back end this season.

The defenceman is also a good passer when he wants it and is a physical presence along the boards with his size and good balance. He also uses that aspect of his game to his advantage to keep possession of the puck under pressure.

Bode Wilde is full of qualities, full of tools that make him a very interesting prospect.

But.

There is a major flaw in his game, and it's his decision-making. It could be enough to see him fall in the draft compared to his scouting projections.

Rankings (not all rankings are final)

Future Considerations: #12
ISS Hockey: #23
Hockey Prospect: #13
McKeen's Hockey: #17
NHL Central Scouting: #17 (NA skaters)

There's his defensive play. He has games — more than a few — when he is caught out of position, displays poor gaps, lacks awareness of opposing players around him both in-zone and off the rush, and takes questionable angles attacking puck-carriers, leaving the areas he should instead be protecting.

That wouldn't matter so much with what he brings to the offence, but Wilde has the same issues in possession of the puck.

He isn't a great playmaker, at least not consistently. He will sometimes obsessively look for a shooting lane or a play, twisting and turning at the offensive blue line while the opposing defence closes on him, instead of making an often more efficient, quick move to open space to pass to a teammate when he faces immediate pressure.

He has the hands and the escaping ability with his skating to play keep away, but his attempts to break free from coverage can turn into dangerous instances where he loses the puck as the last man back, or when, after battling with a defender for a few seconds, he ends up back exactly in the same spot without having created much space for him or his teammates.

Generally, Wilde would gain from simplifying his game in possession. He knows how to get the puck on net for rebounds and can contribute to a cycle in the offensive zone, or make quick passes on the breakout, but the sometimes great displays he tries lack planning and don't serve in accomplishing much for his team.

Thoughts

This isn't to say that Wilde doesn't have great potential. He has the tools (e.g. skating, size/physicality, hands, shooting ability) and they can work together to have him create impressive goals. He could become a top player in the NHL, able to fire bombs on the power play and rack up points.

But there are a lot of elements in his game that he has to either work on or take out completely before he can become a well-rounded offensive force that his team can count on. For this reason, I don't see the prospect going in the mid-first round as projected; toward the end of it might be where he is considered more seriously.

Wilde has committed to the University of Michigan for next year. His time in the NCAA could go a long way in helping him become the solid defender his aforementioned qualities project him to be.