Despite having a good season with the U.S. National Team Development Program, Michael Gildon checked in as the 110th ranked prospect in the NHL Central Scouting Service rankings of North American skaters.
That low ranking may have been due in part to the quality of teammates that he spent time on the ice with. Gildon was moved up and down the lineup, in and out of the top six, and thus it can be difficult to get a read on what he accomplished himself and what was a product of the players around him.
Despite the uncertainty, there is enough reason for Gildon to be a top 100 ranked player in this draft class.
- Age/Birthdate: 17 / June 21, 2001
- Birthplace: Plano, Texas, USA
- Frame: 6-foot-2 / 194 lbs
- Position: Left Wing
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: USNDTP U18 Team
- U17 WHC Gold Medal
- U18 WJC Bronze Medal
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
Michael Gildon likely flew under a lot of peoples’ this season, but he does have some interesting qualities to his game that shine through. The left-handed winger has soft hands when in close to the net that allows him to move the puck quickly in tight, generating multiple scoring chances. He is particularly strong on his feet and thus is hard to shut down once he gets whacking at loose pucks.
He displays those soft hands in transition as well by threading the puck to his teammates while they are in stride. His penchant for hitting his teammates while they are attacking really stood out; rarely did the receiver have to slow down or adjust their speed to receive a Gildon pass.
Just 17 seconds into the 3rd period Team USA extends their lead. Michael Gildon with a nice first pass and that leads to numbers for the U18s.
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) October 28, 2018
Aside from the aforementioned positives in his puckhandling, Gildon’s game can appear a bit clunky. For example, he is decent in battles along the boards and generally comes out with the puck, but unless he is supported by a teammate, he isn’t likely to create a play on the net on his own. Furthermore, his shot feels slow and heavy in the windup.
Those issues have contributed to questions about his offensive upside; from an eye-test perspective, they are easy holes to punch in his game.
While his game lacks fluidity, he makes up for it somewhat with his two-way game. For a 17-year-old, Gildon displays mature and workmanlike defensive responsibility. That in part allowed hi to play with the high-end offensive players with the Program.
Gildon does regularly demonstrate a willingness to be physical. He is heavy on his opponents when they try to transition with the puck, but without taking penalties. When opposing defencemen try to get out of the zone, Gildon is right on top of them, engaging with his stick and forcing the puck off of their’s. He is extremely noticeable on the backcheck, continually putting pressure on his opponents, which is impressive given that his skating stride can appear to be heavy at times.
Overall, Gildon doesn’t have a particularly refined game, but shows flashes of skill that lead me to believe that he can clean up his game with time and repetitions. His skating isn’t fantastic but he is very strong on his feet and seems to get around well enough. That main things that stand out about his game are his hockey IQ, two-way play, and effectively using his size in all three zones.
Determining if a player is nothing more than a passenger on a line can sometimes be a difficult task. It’s not a stretch to believe that Gildon’s numbers were boosted from playing predominantly with Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield, but there is some evidence to suggest that Gildon made both players more effective. He also produced extremely well on his own.
The goals-for data charted above shows that Hughes and Caufield had better results while they played with Gildon than when they were apart from him. That theme follows with production rates as way: nearly every common linemate showed an increased scoring rate with Gildon.
It’s notable that Gildon’s point production increased in the second half of the season, when he spent more time with Hughes and Caufield. From my observations, Gildon was successful with those two because he was smart in his engagements on opponents, forcing them to throw the puck away; at that point, the other U.S. players would pounce.
Furthermore, when Gildon had the puck, he was very smart in how he got the puck to his linemates and in his linemate support. I believe those abilities will allow him to continue to be successful with other high IQ players in the future.
Gildon was among the team leaders in 5-on-5 point rate, keeping pace with Jack Hughes in that regard. The Program’s proportion of 5-on-5 goals while Gildon was on the ice was nearly through the roof.
The Program suffocated the other teams throughout the season. Over the course of the year, Gildon was only on the ice for 11 5-on-5 goals against in 41 games.
Using the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System, Gildon’s statistical cohort suggests a 49% likelihood of NHL success, with some intriguing names within that mix. Given that Gildon didn’t exactly bust down the doors in terms of production (relative to his teammates), that rate is extremely encouraging.
It’s important to remember just what type of player Gildon is. We are not making the argument that he is a top two, or even top three round player, as there will be players with higher upsides and more dynamic skill sets. But the positive things to the Gildon’s game should be enough to override the concerns.
He is a smart player who makes a positive impact in many underlying metrics, giving us enough reason to believe that he can carve out an NHL career. He has the size and has thus far displayed a good two-way game, leading me to believe that he can make it to the NHL, making him worthy of a mid-round selection at this year’s draft.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and USHL.com.
Some clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
Father of two and decent husband.
I watch the game.