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A Wilde Return? Does Bode Fit Hometown Habs Need?

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Bode Wilde

Section Three of the 2022-23 NHL Season COVID-19 Protocol Document reads that “no player shall be denied opportunities to participate in Club Activities on the basis of their vaccination status.” That means the New York Islanders cannot stop unvaccinated prospect Bode Wilde from participating with the organization this season like they did a year ago.

New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello had a strict “must be vaccinated” rule to play for his organization. 

Because Bode Wilde did not comply, the Islanders found him a new home with Vasterviks IK (second-tier division in Sweden) for the 2021-22 season.

In 40 regular season games, the Quebec native struggled with just one goal and nine assists. In seven playoff games, the 22-year-old had two goals and an assist. 

Despite the NHL’s rule change on vaccinated players, that does not mean that the New York Islanders are satisfied with Wilde’s decision to remain unvaccinated. In Montreal, before the start of the 2022 NHL Draft, Lamoriello was asked about the game plan for Bode Wilde in 2022-23.

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Lamoriello said things were still in limbo and that it all had to do with Wilde’s vaccination status as the longtime NHL executive was unwilling to budge on his decision. 

NYI Hockey Now reached out to Wilde’s agent Allain Roy following the rule change to see if his client would be at New York Islanders training camp, which begins on Sept. 21, but Roy did not comment on the matter.

 Even if Wilde plays in Bridgeport this upcoming season, he is not too high on the totem pole.

Here are a list of right-handed defenseman in the Islanders organization: Ryan Pulock, Noah Dobson, Scott Mayfield, Robin Salo (plays both sides), Grant Hutton, Bode Wilde & Paul LaDue. 

Every player on this list played at least one NHL game in 2021-22, except for Wilde.

Given his year away from Bridgeport, missing out on a critical year of development while also straining his relationship with the organization, Wide put himself behind the eight ball just a bit in terms of his route to the NHL. 

A fresh start elsewhere seems more likely than Wilde making it to the NHL with the New York Islanders. However, given Wilde’s trade value, which is closer to nothing than something, the Islanders could, at best, get a seventh-round pick for the 22-year-old.

But as we saw with the Joshua Ho-Sang debacle, Lamoriello does not give players away for free, no matter their standing with the organization.

However, this past weekend, Marco D’Amico of Montreal Hockey Now had an interesting story that included Bode Wilde as a potential player for the Canadiens to acquire, a team on the lookout for a right-side defenseman.

Here’s what D’Amico said as to why Bode Wilde could be a solid option for the Canadiens:

“The relationship between Wilde and the New York Islanders has been strained over the last couple of years, with the 22-year-old, Montreal-native likely needing a fresh start in a new organization. Wilde plays a very offensive game from the backend, pushing the puck up the ice with ease, and has the offensive tools that warrant powerplay usage as well. The 6’3 195lbs defenceman is currently stuck with the Islanders and doesn’t have a realistic shot at the NHL level [with them]…”

The New York Islanders traded with the Canadiens earlier this summer when they swapped the 13th pick at the 2022 NHL Draft for 22-year-old defenseman Alexander Romanov.

The Canadiens flipped the 13th overall pick in a deal to the Chicago Blackhawks for centerman Kirby Dach.

The other two defensemen on Amico’s list were New York Rangers first-round pick from 2018 Nils Lundkvist, who recently requested a trade from the organization, and Los Angeles Kings 2022 second-round pick Helge Grans.  

The big draw for the Montreal Canadiens to acquire prospects is that this season will be about development. Bode Wilde could be a low-risk-high reward acquisition, which is why the Islanders may not move on from him just yet. 

Since his OHL Days with the Saginaw Spirit (73 GP, 23 G, 58 A, 81 P) from 2018-2020, Bode Wilde has yet to play to that level since joining the Islanders organization. 

In two seasons in Bridgeport before being loaned, the “offensive defenseman” recorded just three goals and five assists in 42 combined games from 2019-2021. 

There is no opening for Wilde right now on the NHL roster, and his role with Bridgeport would likely be limited, with him having to earn every bit of ice time from head coach Brent Thompson. 

If Bode Wilde does not participate in New York Islanders Training Camp, whether that’s his personal decision or the team’s, it would be interesting to see the route that Lamoriello takes. He could loan overseas again, or he could move him, and both sides can move on. 

Wilde has one year remaining on his entry-level contract before he becomes a restricted free agent. 

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