With its third-round pick (66th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Florida Panthers have selected defenseman Max Gildon from the U.S. National Team Development Program.
GIldon has a rare combination of size and agility. He has always been a bigger kid so he doesn’t have some of that awkwardness with his coordination that other players his size might have. His skating and footwork isn’t quite elite, but it’s above average, especially for a player his size. He looks like an NHL defenseman.
Even though physically the sky is the limit, I don’t think Gildon will ever develop the offensive ability to be a top pairing defenseman at the pro level. More likely, he’s a second or third pairing guy that gives a solid 15 minutes a game of quiet, defensive hockey. He’s headed to the University of New Hampshire next season, where he will have the opportunity to play a lot of minutes right away in multiple situations. If Gildon starts to improve his hockey sense a bit and plays well at New Hampshire, he’s certainly ready physically for the pros, and could be ready to compete for an NHL roster spot after a few years at New Hampshire and some time in the minor leagues.
Height: 6’3” Weight: 187 lbs.
Team: USA NTDP U18
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 54th among North American skaters