When the Vancouver Canucks selected Jonah Gadjovich at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft earlier this summer, many were quick to throw the “power forward” phrase around. While fellow second-round selection Kole Lind doesn’t have the size or strength that Gadjovich does, don’t be surprised if we look back one day and find that Lind came closer to fitting that bill.
Canucks Select Kole Lind 33rd Overall https://t.co/c0dQgCOkGM
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) June 24, 2017
No, he’s never going to be Milan Lucic or Todd Bertuzzi, but he’s got soft hands, a nose for the net, and even a bit of a mean streak.
We’ve changed the qualifications up just a little bit this year. Being under the age of 25 is still mandatory (as of the coming September 15th), but instead of Calder Trophy rules, we’re just requiring players to have played less than 25 games in the NHL (essentially ignoring the Calder Trophy’s rule about playing more than six games in multiple seasons).
Graduates from this time last year include Brendan Gaunce, Troy Stecher, and Nikita Tryamkin, while Anton Rodin is simply too old now, and Jake Virtanen is not being considered solely as a result of his games played.
Kole Lind isn’t the Canucks best prospect, but he may be my favourite. As Western Hockey League fan, I’ve had a front seat to Kole Lind’s career with the Kelowna Rockets. Every time I saw the Rockets in action Lind was one of the biggest standouts, and I always left wondering why more people weren’t talking about him. We had Lind at 37 in our 2017 pre-draft rankings, but I was shocked to see him that low, considering I had Lind at 21 on my list. In other words, Lind is a first-round calibre prospect, at least in my estimation.
Nation Network 2017 Prospect Profile: #37 Kole Lind https://t.co/AuJoImS2FY
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) June 1, 2017
Lind lead a strong Rockets team in scoring last season, with 87 points in 70 games. Among first-time draft-eligible forwards, Lind ranked 5th in the WHL in point-per-game pace behind only top-five picks Nolan Patrick and Cody Glass and Canucks Army favourites Kailer Yamamoto and Mason Shaw.
Ryan Biech covered the pre-draft profile of Lind, where he gave a great rundown on the basics of Lind’s game:
“Lind is a player that I’m very familiar with given he played for the Rockets in the WHL this past year. Back in November, I did a complete scouting report on a game between the Vancouver Giants and Kelowna here. Lind played well that night, showcasing his hockey sense and ability to read the play. At the time, Lind was hovering around an projected early third round selection, but he had such a good season he is now in the conversation as a potential first round pick.
Lind will need to fill out as he is quite lean, but once he does, he will be able to effectively use his skill set at the next level. He is relentless on the puck when on the forecheck and uses his speed to push defencemen into quick decisions.
His ability to make a play out of nothing is what separates him. Lind slips into the gap in coverage and suddenly the puck comes there. The Shaunavan native is a skilled passer who puts the puck right on the stick of his teammate, but his shot release is still very good. He is able to create offence in multiple ways and that makes him extremely effective.”
While Lind isn’t quite what you’d call a two-way ace, there aren’t any glaring holes in his game. A lot of Lind’s production came via secondary assists and on the powerplay, but that’s true of virtually all of his peers as well, and it’s clear through multiple viewings that Lind was usually the player driving the bus on his line. It’s also worth noting that although Lind is listed at RW he also saw a lot of action in the middle with the Rockets as well. That versatility could be a valuable asset moving forward.
pGPS looks fondly on Lind, who carries an expected success percentage of 41.2% based on a sample of 192 players. Lind’s cohort includes a number of highly impressive names, including Jamie Benn, Ryan Johansen, Andrew Ladd, Shane Doan, and Ray Ferraro.
At this point, there isn’t a ton more to say about Lind because he’s an under-the-radar prospect who’s still got a lot to prove before he cracks an NHL lineup. One thing is certain, though: the early signs are good. The Canucks probably don’t have a future elite forward in Lind, but he looks like a player who could eventually turn out to be a versatile and offensively-gifted middle-six winger. If you can get that with an early second round pick, that’s a huge win.