Once hyped as a promising young prospect for the NY Islanders, 2018 second-round pick Bode Wilde has signed with HC Banska Bystrica of the Slovakian league. Wilde became a free agent this summer, not extended a qualifying offer by the Islanders.
Drafted out of the US National Team Development Program, Wilde has always been an offensive-minded defenseman capable of putting up gaudy numbers. Following his time with the NTDP, Wilde joined the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL, where he played one season, finishing as the league's third-leading point producer among defensemen.
Wilde looked as if he was a budding star for the Isles until the start of the pandemic. Once vaccinations became readily available, Wilde refused the vaccine, forcing Lou Lamoriello's hand not to allow him to attend training camp. Not only did Lamoriello disallow Wilde from camp he also loaned the defenseman to Vasterviks IK of the Swedish HockeyAllsvenskan for the season. After one season in Sweden, Wilde returned to North America, playing for the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL. Wilde struggled to return to his pre-professional scoring form, finishing with just 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in 56 games.
Without a contract and no NHL teams willing to take a chance on the 23-year-old, Wilde will try his luck in Slovakia in hopes of getting his career back on track.
"I am looking forward to being able to work in such a beautiful city and play in a great league and be part of a great organization," said Wilde, translated through the Bystrica team website. "I'm also looking forward to playing under Doug Shedden. I dare say we have a good team that will be competitive. I plan to enjoy every second."
Wilde will join the team next week, hoping to bring the franchise deeper into the playoffs, as Bysterica was eliminated in the quarter-finals last season. Wilde looks to bring more offense to the team as the organization seems excited to bring in a player of his caliber.
It is not a matter of course that a defender who was drafted in the first two rounds of the NHL comes to play in Slovakia," Bysterica GM Ľuboš Pisár said. "Bode is still a young, talented player with good size and movement on the ice. He is very good in defensive activities and has the potential to contribute significantly in the offensive. I'm glad that a defender with his parameters and history decided to "restart" his career with us."