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Penguins NHL Draft Preview: A potential Wilde card for #53

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It’s tough to do a Penguins themed NHL draft preview, but TSN rankings are out and there are some interesting names.

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

Bob McKenzie’s final list of 2018 NHL Draft prospects are out, which is always an interesting list, a consensus of what he hears from several scouts. As a reminder, the Penguins first picks are scheduled for #53 and #64 overall on Saturday.

Reading McKenzie’s work, this exchange raised an eyebrow.

Like any draft, and like any rankings, there are some wild cards. U.S. defenceman Bode Wilde takes that to a new literal level.

Quite aside from the easy pun, Wilde fits the bill. Four of our surveyed scouts had him top 20, four had between 40 and 60.

Wilde is No. 25 on the TSN list. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, he could go higher or lower than that.

Chances are Wilde will be off the board by #53 when Pittsburgh gets their turn to pick, but you never know.

Here’s what our SBN Devils blog All About the Jersey said of Wilde:

In his first year as a member of NTDP, Wilde had eight goals and 19 assists with the U17 team. His second year showed much improvement in his offensive production, and solidified him as a first round prospect. In 61 games, he scored 12 goals and had 29 assists for a total of 41 points.

While defensemen are hard to pin down, Bode Wilde has a considerable track record as contributing to the offense whilst being defensively positive for his team. There is a chance he falls out of the lottery due to the other defensemen in the draft, but his game might see him selected before the Devils get a chance.

Aaron Vickers of Future Considerations said:

Wilde is a big, two-way difference–maker on the back-end…a big kid that is also a real solid skater…transitions smoothly…passes the puck with authority and accuracy…has a booming slap shot from the point that he can unleash in a hurry…he can be a real catalyst on the power play…shows nice leadership skills…calm puck handling, rarely displaying panic under pressure…generates time and space by using body positioning…uses his big frame to step into opponents and shut them down physically…closes the gap, seals off along the boards and eliminates time and space

**

As we saw last summer when the Penguins traded from #31 to #51 and a lot of people (incorrectly) flipped out, the valuation of picks can be wild:

These lists are always an inexact science, but the marginal difference between prospects ranked from Nos. 21 through 65 is really slim this season.

Something to consider with the Pens having two top-65 picks (though obviously at the back end of the list).

If McKenzie’s draft holds, which it won’t, but he has the following picks attributed to where the Pens are picking

  • #53: Olof Lindbom (#2 goalie, Sweden, 6’0, 174 pounds)

The Draft Analyst says:

Active, borderline fidgety goalie with a lot of positives to his game, beginning with his focus and involvement in all events going on in his own end. Lindbom doesn’t get cheated when it comes to making an impact, and although he seems happily entrenched in his crease, you can never label him as a kid who daydreams until the puck is right before him. He’s not very big, and his penchant for dropping down can present shooters with practically the entire upper-half of the net and a chunk of the lower long side— especially on cross-ice one -time attempts. Still, his head seems to be locked in on the puck and shooter a fraction of a second before the shot is released. Lindbom’s rebound control is excellent, and pucks he puts in front of him are within his reach. But don’t count on Lindbom to break up passes or ever play the puck — a good estimate is he will play less than a quarter of all dump-ins into his own end and relies on his defenders to do most of the leg work.

  • #64: David Gustafsson (center, Sweden, 6’1, 174 pounds)

Habs Eye on the Prize says of Gustafsson:

Gustafsson’s greatest attributes are his lower-body strength and balance. This combination allows him to protect the puck, push his way to the front of the net, and grind it out to win battles along the boards. His skating technique, however, could use some refinement. His edgework needs improvement, and by focusing a bit more on his skating style he could easily enhance his already decent speed and acceleration.

That being said, his mobility issues don’t interfere with his ability to generate chances. Gustafsson may not be the most creative playmaker, sticking to simple passes and a north-south kind of play, but he’s a smart player. His ability to read the play compensates for his lack of creativity, as he proved by finishing fifth in scoring in the junior league.

The Pens are known to go off the board for some of their higher picks in recent years, so who knows if they will have a conventional type of outlook this weekend, but that’s a good idea of the quality of prospect that they could/should be adding with these type of picks. Ideally someone like Wilde or another player they might have in the 20-30 range on their board could still be on the table at #53. Given how drastically different NHL teams scout and rank various players, this could well be the case in a draft year as wide-open as this.