The Michigan-based U.S. National Development Program may see an uptick in attendance for their games this season. Bode Wilde, the U-18 team’s top defenseman, announced that he will be taking his talents to the University of Michigan, in nearby Ann Arbor, for the 2018-19 season beyond. Wilde is a top 2018 NHL Draft prospect, and if that wasn’t enough of a draw, fans of the Maize and Blue will likely be looking to get a preview of their incoming talent.
Wilde, 17, was born in Canada – Montreal to be exact – but has lived almost all of his life in the United States. At 6’2″, 194-lbs. and still growing, the physical, puck-moving blue liner has the potential to be the first American taken next June. He posted 19 points in 56 games with the USNTDP U-17 team last year and put on a show at the U-17 World Junior Championships, netting six points in five games. Wilde has good offensive ability and is a strong skater, but also plays with an edge and isn’t afraid to sit back and dominate the defensive zone. He has a powerful shot, but is just as likely to throw his weight into a check on the penalty kill as he is into a slapper on the power play.
A well-rounded prospect with room to grow in the NCAA, Wilde is a truly intriguing prospect. Yet, he faces some stiff competition if he wants to be the “first” anything in the 2018 NHL Draft. It seems extremely unlikely that Wilde could be the first defenseman taken in June, given that Swedish phenom Rasmus Dahlin has long been considered the odds-on favorite to go #1 overall. For Wilde to be the first American, he would have to hold off the likes of USNTDP teammate Joel Farabee, a talented scoring forward, and Boston University freshman Brady Tkachuk, a big, game-changing winger like his father and brother. Heck, Wilde even faces a challenge to be the first Michigan-bound player taken, as teammate and fellow blue liner Mattias Samuelsson commited to the school long ago and is also considered a first-round talent.
Regardless of when Wilde is selected in the draft, Wolverine fans will be happy to have him in Ann Arbor. The school already had sophomore rearguard Luke Martin selected in the second round by the Carolina Hurricanes last year and brought in San Jose Sharks first-rounder Joshua Norris as well. With Wilde, Samuelsson, and yet another promising defenseman, 2019 draft-eligible Michael Vukojevic, coming soon, they are building quite a program in Ann Arbor.
If you’re looking to check out Bode Wilde or any of his talented teammates on the U.S. Development Team this year, you’re in luck if you live in the Great Lakes region or near any of their frequent NCAA stops. Check out this year’s schedule.