The Florida Panthers went down to the wire, but missed the playoffs by one point and ended up with the No.15 overall pick in the NHL draft.
Overall, the Panthers are set up pretty nicely. Their key players, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle are all locked up long-term and all have reasonable cap-hits—$30.4 million combined ($6.08M average / 24.8 average age).
Despite another solid season—tied for 16th in the NHL in points (164-121-43) over the last four years combined, but have missed the playoffs three out of four seasons—the Panthers have been best known in 2018 for giving up Jonathan Marchessault to get rid of Reilly Smith’s contract in the Expansion Draft.
The Panthers have some pretty solid prospects in the pipeline like Henrik Borgstrom, Owen Tippett and Aleksi Heponiemi, but they’re all forwards which suggests that they will look for a defensemen at No.15.
With the No.15 Overall Pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Florida Panthers select…
Bode Wilde — RHD — United States 🇺🇸
Wilde is actually pretty similar to Ekblad. The 18-year-old has great size (6-foot-2 / 196 lbs.) and is a do-it-all defenseman. Wilde is hard-nosed and difficult to play against in the defensive zone and has a strong shot in the offensive zone.
While playing for the U.S. National U-18 team, Wilde collected 12 goals and 29 assists (41 points) in 61 games. The blueliner is committed to the University of Michigan but could be in a Panthers’ uniform in a couple of years.
Wilde has everything you’re looking for in a defenseman, but is somehow the seventh blueliner off of the board in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Bode Wilde is a talented and competitive defender that plays a tenacious 200-foot game. His balance and acceleration in-stride is noteworthy and he is never caught in no-man’s land, or doing nothing. He is proactive and hard-nosed in pursuit if puck control, and he reads queues in all three zones naturally and quickly. Defensively, he is a beast and always looks to take time and space away from the opposition. He erases the open lane, keeps opponents to the outside, and is physical along the wall. In-transition, he is able to make that outlet pass or, more than likely, take it up himself to set up the trap. Offensively, he showcases a very hard, accurate shot that leaps off his stick. He can also open up space by way of his skating ability, size, and handling of the puck. Thanks to his quick thinking in making the high-percentage decision, he can be very difficult to read and play against. All-in-all, Wilde is a smart, competitive, and sizey two-way D-man that can provide a team with numbers on the board and stability on the ice. — Elite Prospects