EDMONTON, AB - Defenceman Bode Wilde has a plan this off-season, as he transitions from the United States Hockey League (USHL) to the NCAA where he'll suit up for the University of Michigan in 2018-19.
There's a sense of determination in his voice when he announces his summer goal.
"I'm just going to work on getting stronger because I'm not playing against 16-year-olds anymore," Wilde told EdmontonOilers.com at the 2018 NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo, N.Y.
"There are men playing in college. I'm just going to get as strong as I can to be able to put a good beating on those guys."
Video: COMBINE | Bode Wilde
It's not every day you hear an 18-year-old say he wants to "put a good beating," on players older than him. Next season when Wilde mans the blueline for the Wolverines, his competition will be mature physically but the rearguard remains undeterred.
The right-shot Dman, who was on the stacked National Team Development Program which featured Oliver Wahlstrom, Joel Farabee and K'Andre Miller, is known as having all the necessary components to become an NHL defender. Wilde is a smooth skater, can handle the puck and boasts a big shot. Unlike many highly-touted defencemen in this year's draft, the 6-foot-2, 195-pounder also has size.
"I'm an offensive defenceman but a steady guy back there," said Wilde. "I obviously like to create offence but defence is my first job. I like to make sure that I take care of things back there before heading to the offence. I can play physical and skate pretty well for a big guy. My shot is a big part of my game so I try to use those things to the best of my ability."
Born in Montreal, QC, Wilde grew up a Habs fan but moved to Michigan at an early age.
"As soon as I got there, life just suited me better I guess," said Wilde, who notched three goals and 16 points in 25 USHL games last season. "I felt more at home. School was better. It wasn't half in French, which I liked a little bit. The hockey was more competitive and it was more fun so after that one year I decided to stay."
After meeting with Wolverines Head Coach Mel Pearson, Wilde knew he wanted to become a member of his program.
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"It's always been one of my favourite (schools) and then as soon as I got the chance to meet Mel Pearson, it was a no-brainer," he said. "Just getting a chance to sit down and talk to him about the way he plays and kind of getting to know him, right away it seemed like a great fit for me."
Prognosticators say Wilde's drawback is his ability to process the play at certain instances on the ice. But given his tools and some proper guidance, Wilde could provide great value to the team that selects him in Dallas.