2016-17 Team: U.S. National Development Team (#8)
Date of Birth: May 17, 1999
Place of Birth: Plano, Texas
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 187 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): 55th (final)
- Future Considerations: 46th (final)
- ISS: not ranked (May)
- Bob McKenzie: not ranked (Mid-season)
- Craig Button: 78th (final)
- The Hockey News: 80th (final)
The state of Texas has a reputation, sometimes an unfair one, as a part of the United States that’s full of rowdy cowboys. (For what it’s worth, so does Western Canada.) While there are quite a few cowboys in Texas who occasionally hoot and holler, there are also a great deal of people that go about their business quietly and are a steadying presence. American defenseman Max Gildon, a native of Plano, Texas, has a style to his game that is definitively in the second category. Gildon is not particularly flashy, but he definitely gets the job done.
If there are two words to describe Gildon, they are “big” and “smart.” He’s on the younger side of the 2017 NHL Draft crop, but he’s 6’3″ and has a big, lanky body that can probably pack on some muscle as he matures. His intelligence on the ice comes across primarily in his defensive play – he seemingly always knows where to be on the ice – and between his intelligence and his lankiness, he gets where he needs to be to disrupt rushes very efficiently. His offensive game is still developing – he doesn’t take a ton of risks – but his on-ice intelligence has transferred over so at the very least he’s usually in a position to create offense (and he knows where his teammates are going to be).
Right now, Gildon can be relied upon for low-event hockey. But he’s still very raw offensively and seems to have the tools that could result in taking a big step offensively in the future – particularly his awareness. Even if his development plateaus in the near future, he’s a big-bodied defender who seems to think the game really well and eats up minutes where the other team can’t generate much offense (because he’s adept at shutting attackers down). He’s headed to the University of New Hampshire in the fall, so he’ll have plenty of time to work on the offensive side of his game and to add some additional muscle to his frame.
NHL Draft Projection
Gildon could go as early as the third round or as late as the fifth round, depending on individual team preferences.
“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.” – Chris Dilks, SBN College Hockey.
“A two-way defender in the Ryan McDonagh mold…this big wing-spanned blueliner is just scratching the surface of his ability…the big Texan is a minute-muncher who can contribute at both ends of the ice…a steadying presence in his own zone…strong and physical, not afraid to flex his muscle and willing to play it nasty if required…pins his man and does not let him back into the play…generates decent speed and keeps his gaps tight because of his reach and skating…handles the puck well, although not overly flashy or very creative offensively…can play in all situations…plays a strong transition game, moving the puck quickly and accurately up to his forwards…does not back down from a battle…his point shot is improving with added strength…has loads of room to grow, but also the potential to be a difference-maker at the NHL level.” – Future Considerations.
— Dennis Schellenberg (@ScoutingFactory) April 17, 2017
- Strong positional defender
- Effective positional player offensively
- Big frame, uses his size well
- Strong skater
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Could stand to play meaner
- Will need to fill out physically to play his style at the pro level
- Needs to take more risks offensively
Defensive-minded second pairing defender.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 7/10, Defense 8/10
Gildon represented the United States at both the World Under-17 Challenge and the Under-18 World championship. He won a gold medal at the U18s and was named to the tournament’s all-star team.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.