After deciding earlier this summer to not attend the University of Michigan, Bode Wilde has officially signed with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL for the upcoming season. Selected 41st overall by the New York Islanders, the big American defenseman will try to traverse the CHL ranks instead of heading the collegiate route for the next step in his hockey career.
Wilde may have been recruited by former US National Development Team teammate Blade Jenkins, who also was drafted by the Islanders in June and spent last year with the Spirit. Jenkins will be back in Saginaw this season and with Wilde should give them a big boost this year. Last year the Spirit were able to sneak into the playoffs despite a losing record, one that should improve dramatically this season.
For the Islanders, having Wilde go to the CHL and renounce his NCAA eligibility can only mean positive things for their ability to sign him. While the argument can be made that spending a few seasons at a top program like Michigan would be better for his development, there is now very little risk that they will lose him to free agency. Wilde will also likely be given a bigger role in Saginaw than he could have received with the Wolverines, given Quinn Hughes’ return to the college for this season.
An extremely smooth-skating defenseman for his size, Wilde should find success in the CHL and translate that to a promising professional career in the coming years. Though he slipped out of the first round and was not invited to the recent Summer Showcase, there are plenty of reasons to believe he can turn things around to become the top-end two-way defenseman many have projected him as.