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Photo Credit: @USAHockeyNTDP

With the 25th Overall Pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs Select… Bode Wilde?

Who Is Bode Wilde?

Probably nobody you need to immediately worry about — it’s not super likely that he’s still on the board when Pick 25 rolls around. Still, that’s what we all said about Liljegren last year, and somehow it happened. Also, Corey Pronman says there are “off ice and conditioning issues” that, while a load of bologna, we implore other teams to pay attention to. Let’s take a look.

Wilde is a right-handed defenseman with good size and a high offensive ceiling. If you’re separating this year’s high-end defensive prospects into tiers, Wilde would probably be in the third tier. (Rasmus Dahlin is in his own category, then you’ve got a group that includes the likes of Adam Boqvist, Noah Dobson, Quinn Hughes, and Evan Bouchard. Wilde doesn’t crack that group, but in terms of potential, he’s not as far off as some would have him.)

He’s headed to the University of Michigan in the fall, but he’s spent the past two seasons in the USHL with the USNTDP. The U18 team this year was one of the more talented groups we’ve seen in the past few seasons, with Wilde playing with the likes of fellow 2018 Draft-eligible prospects Oliver Wahlstrom and Joel Farabee.

Where is Wilde Ranked?

What the Numbers Say About Wilde

A dual citizen, Wilde planted his flag firmly on the south side of the border. His early development came courtesy of some very good organizations out of Michigan, and most recently has been part of the American national team pipeline, playing with the USNTDP and putting up big numbers in his second season there.

Thanks to Mitch Brown’s invaluable prospect tracking work, we have a bit of data on Wilde. (I literally can’t say enough good things about what Mitch does– if you’re not subscribed to The Athletic, consider it. Support work like his if you’re willing and able!)

So what this more or less tells us is: Wilde is good offensively. He’s particularly effective bringing the puck into his offensive zone, but while he still generates a high volume of controlled exits per 60 minutes, his success rate isn’t great.

One of the knocks against Wilde is that his hockey IQ isn’t quite where some of his peers’ are, and you’re maybe seeing that a little bit in his poor numbers in terms of breaking up opponents’ entries. In the end though, in the nine games that Mitch tracked, the data paints a picture of a player who needs to improve play in his own zone but has high offensive potential.

(It probably doesn’t need to be said, but remember: Small sample size, take this with a data grain of salt.)

The Eye Test

Wilde is a smooth skater with a good, hard shot that gets to the net more often than not, and he likes to use it. If he’s not shooting to score, he’s shooting for rebounds and creating chances for his teammates around the net. He’s pretty big so he can take a hit, but doesn’t tend to initiate physical contact unless necessary.

This season he’s played largely alongside fellow draft-eligible defenseman K’Andre Miller, and the two have seen considerable success. (Miller, by the way, is ranked lower than Wilde in most draft projections and guides but looks to be a more complete player.)

One thing to be aware of when it comes to Wilde — he’s very good on the power play, but doesn’t kill penalties for the Team USA. Now, that could change in the near future as he heads off to Michigan, and if Wilde continues to improve and turn into more of an all-situations player, it’ll do wonders for his NHL prospects. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on his development as it progresses.

What’s Been Written About Wilde?

Dobber Prospects: 

The defenseman with the greatest amount of potential outside of Rasmus Dahlin may very well be this big-bodied finesse blueliner, who through Sunday led all NTDP rearguards with 11 points in 10 games. Wilde is an exceptional skater with a hard shot who creates chances from a variety of methods.

The Draft Analyst: 

Wilde loves to hammer the disc thanks to a heavy shot, and he has the ability to either create his own shot from up high or finish in a speed rush to the net. Once he crosses center, he is as close to the complete package as they come, and his size and right-handed shot make him an extremely tantalizing prospect with star potential. Wilde’s risk taking can put his mates in jeopardy, so you’d like to see him go through stretches when he puts a premium on sound positioning, and is willing to refrain from deep attacks every single shift.

Why Should the Leafs Draft Wilde?

Hey, do we or do we not want some big, right-handed defensemen?

In all seriousness, Wilde is a very good bet if he’s left on the board at Pick 25. He’s got some work to do, no doubt — but most guys do at age 18. If I’m the Leafs, I like that he’s going to Michigan next year. Wilde himself cites Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski as someone he looks up to, and if he can replicate some of Werenski’s results, that’s a big win for the Leafs. Wilde isn’t the player Werenski is, but give him two years of seasoning at Michigan and I’d be willing to say that he’ll be just about NHL-ready.

Wilde already does a lot of things well, and the things that he doesn’t do well are fixable. He’s got to get better in his own zone and learn that sometimes the safe play is the best play, but I think the next few years are going to make a real difference.

MLN Draft #Content

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