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The effect of the NHL’s southern expansion in the 1990s continues to be felt on NHL Draft Day. This year, it is Texas native Max Gildon who is likely to be taken relatively high in the 2017 NHL Draft. Gildon has spent the last two years playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program, and was one of their most used defencemen. He put up 11 goals and 33 points in 62 games this season. At the IIHF Under 18 World Championships, he stepped up his game, even more. Gildon put up four goals and six points in seven games. He was named to the Tournament All-Star Team, and helped lead the U.S. squad to a gold medal.
Gildon will head to the NCAA next season, and has committed to play for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. His WHL rights are owned by the Vancouver Giants, if he chooses to change his mind.
Max Gildon Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #49
Defense — shoots Left
Born May 17th, 1999 — Plano, Texas
Height 6’3″ — Weight 191 lbs [191 cm / 87 kg]
Gildon’s start-up and stride looks a bit awkward. However, it does not seem to slow him down at all. While he is not a speedster, he has decent top end speed as well as good acceleration. Gildon skates well in both directions. He can join the rush, as well as pinch in at the blue line, but must pick his spots to avoid getting caught. Gildon also has decent edge work and agility given his height. He needs to fill out a bit, and improve his lower body strength to be stronger on the puck, and win battles on the boards.
Gildon has a good array of shots. His slap shot and one timer are very heavy, and he can use them to be a real threat from the point. However, he could stand to improve its accuracy. His wrist shot and snap shots are also dangerous. They feature a quick release, and are more accurate than his slap shot. He mainly uses wrist and snap shots when he is a trailer on the rush, or when he pinches in from the blue line. Gildon has ggod instincts on when to slide down looking for a pass.
Gildon is also a good passer. He can start plays with a strong first pass from his own end. He is also decent in controlling the puck at the blue line, and finding open seams to get it to a teammate. Gildon is not the classic power play quarterback, but can still make some plays from the line. He also has the stick handling skill to skate the puck out of danger, and start the transition game.
Gildon has the size and skill to play a physical game in his own end. Forwards need to have their head up when they head down his end of the ice. He is also good in the corners, throwing his weight around, and working to clear the front of the net. Gildon needs to add muscle to his frame, in order to play this style at the pro level. He also has to be more consistent in using that physicality. Gildon has good instincts and positioning. He uses his stick to break up passing and shooting lanes, as well as to poke the puck away from opponents. Once a turnover is created, he quickly transitions to offence.
Projection and Comparison
Gildon has some room to grow. He needs to be stronger, and to play a more consistent physical game. He could also work on his shot accuracy and get even better as a passer. However, even in the areas where he needs work, he is still pretty good. Gildon has a great package of size and skill, and the ceiling here if he can round out his game is very high. He could be a very effective top four defenceman if he reaches his potential. Gildon’s style is reminiscent of Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but this is a style based comparison only, and not one based on talent.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect available on our draft board.