The fastest rising 2018 draft-eligible prospect is Noah Dobson.
Not only does the 6-3, 179-pound, right-shot rearguard skate smoothly and quickly and excel in all zones, but he wields a cannon of a shot and impressive passing skills from long distance.
A true, two-way defenseman, Dobson’s an asset in any on-ice situation.
Fundamentally sound on defense. He’s very adept at positioning himself to minimize opponent offensive options, funneling them from the center of the ice towards the boards and constricting their passing and shooting lanes, and overall space to operate.
Cerebral and alert on offense, Dobson sees the ice well which guides him to advantageous spots that help create scoring chances.
Maintaining nearly a point-per-game pace (39 in 41 contests) during his second campaign with the QMJHL Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the just-turned 18-year-old Prince Edward Island native is second on the club in assists, leading all league defensemen with 32. He’s proven a productive distributor while skating with several high-profile names to feed including Antoine Morand and German Rubtsov.
But don’t doubt that his offensive skills will eventually translate into more goals.
Blessed with soft hands that allow him to deftly handle the puck, Dobson’s able to weave through traffic while confidently maintaining possession and faking out defenders.
Dobson’s shot velocity and accuracy will allow him to effectively quarterback the power play. He’s done as much in the Q, tied for league lead among defensemen with six power play goals.
Given the right situation, in time he should serve as a versatile NHL defenseman, that with his range of talents can munch minutes as a top pairing guy. He’s able to compliment a variety of partners whether they more strongly emphasize the offensive or defensive aspects of the game.
Bode Wilde is another highly-regarded, two-way blueliner among a strong set of defensive prospects we’ll likely see selected on day one of June’s NHL Entry Draft.
Big and burly at 6-02, 194 pounds, and skilled in all zones. Wilde is heady and calm on the ice, features a heavy and hard slapper that can tie up even the best goalies.
A valuable puck-mover, Wilde too appears a future NHL top-pairing defenseman that creates frequent scoring chances with accurate, zip passes and excels at stifling opponents with his defensive positioning.
The Montreal-born 17 year-old also possesses a howitzer that he’s developing for further power play use while skating with the US National Development Program.
A punishing hitter, Wilde forces opponents to think twice about trying to blast past him in their offensive zone, but unlike some such defenders is an agile skater that can evade and juke defenders well when aiming to shoot or distribute.
He exudes confidence, and has been criticized for holding onto the puck too long in an effort to “do it all”. But that’s not the worst problem a developing and extremely gifted d-man can have.
In fairness, he can do many things extremely well and looks likely to excel at the next levels in many situations – as a shutdown defender, 5v5 offensive threat, penalty killer, and/or leading the power play.
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