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Photo Credit: Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze

CanucksArmy’s 2018 “Midterm” Prospect Rankings: #6 Kole Lind

Taken with the 33rd overall pick at the 2017 NHl Entry Draft, Kole Lind returned to the Kelowna Rockets and hit the ground running. Fans were excited to see his production, tenacity, and consistency throughout the season. The heady Lind looked to be an elite player at the WHL level this season and played so well that he earned himself an invite to Team Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp.

Ultimately, he was unable to make the team but it was still an impressive sign for a player who had never represented Canada in his junior career.

Canucks GM Jim Benning asked the now infamous question on the 2017 draft floor:

Well, the Canucks took him early on day 2 and the Shaunavon native checks in as the 6th best prospect in the organization.

Numbers:

Kole Lind 2017-18 WHL Statistics

GP G A P S S%
58 39 56 95 228 17.1%

Lind set new career highs in goals and points this past season and was only one assist shy of tying his mark from the previous campaign. He followed that up with 8 points (3-5-8) in the four-game playoff sweep loss to Tri-City. There had been concern that he was stymied in the previous year’s post-season but this year he was able to take that next step and be dominant in the second season despite the Rockets failing to win a single game.

Lind finished the season ranked fourth in primary points (84) in the entire WHL, and was second in that same peer group in primary points per game played. His point-per-game rate of 1.64 points per game put him 6th in the WHL and second among 2017 draft picks in the Dub.

With the early end to his season, Lind headed to the Utica Comets on an amateur try-out contract where he appeared in six regular season games and posted one assist.

pGPS:

Some encouraging signs from Lind under the pGPS microscope – a high success rate for a CHL player and a fairly productive cohort with XPR of 44.3 points. There is a wide spread of names and careers there but still some interesting names in that group.

Scouting Report

The Canucks’ 2nd pick of the 2017 draft is a well-rounded player who has an impressive offensive toolbox that keeps opponents on their toes. His calling cards are his hockey IQ and his play-making abilities but his shot has serious pep and accuracy that he able to beat goalies cleanly. There were quite a few times where the speed and accuracy of his shot left a sense of ‘wow’, and although he always had a decent shot, it wasn’t there last year.

In terms of a reading of the play and hockey IQ, two things stand out about Kole Lind on the ice. The first being his elusiveness on the ice when engaging his opponents. It’s something that stood out last season and continued throughout this campaign. His ability to just ‘appear’ on an opponent and rush their decision or slipping in between defenders when his teammate has the puck.

Another aspect is his puck distribution skills – able to thread that pass to his teammate in stride or in the gap in coverage. With 57 assists last year and then another 56 assists this year and then the bevy of primary points, it’s a clear indicator that Lind is a driver of offence whenever he is on the ice. It was readily apparent as the puck went through him before getting to his centre or another winger.

Lind and 2018 Draft Eligible Kyle Topping played together quite a bit this season and the results were encouraging. Jeremy Davis had Topping as the 46th ranked prospect in the 2018 Draft Class.

From a goals for percentage, with the exception of Libor Zabransky, Lind made almost every one of his most regular linemates better.

After following the Kelowna Rockets quite closely this season, Lind’s tenacity and willingness to ‘get under the skin’ of his opponents was something that showed itself. Regularly he’d score a goal and give an earful to the opposing bench. Combine that with his willingness to hound his opponents and it’s no wonder some teams started getting feisty with the Rockets top player. That feistiness is something that will hopefully continue and be channeled into effective ways to help the team.

From speaking with some other scouts around the league, that chip on the shoulder mentality aura to Lind was something that a few teams found intriguing, Canucks included. An example of this is after being cut from Team Canada, he was playing like a man possessed for a few weeks.

In the Petrus Palmu profile, Jackson referenced the reliance on data on the 2017 draft class and Kole Lind was a player who popped off the page at the 33rd overall pick. Getting that value in the 2nd round is a good way to boost the prospect pool.

Lind was a good bet at 41.2% when the Canucks took him with the 33rd overall pick this past summer and the increase 49.5% in a step in the right direction. Under this lens, it’s basically a 50/50 shot that the Canucks get a player out of Lind and you can’t ask for better odds than that at that point in the draft.

(As a side note, the 8.6% for his small sample size in the AHL is nothing to be concerned about.)

If there is one area that Lind can work on, it’s to be consistent on a shift by shift basis. His consistent scoring over the course of the season was an impressive feat but there were a few nights that he wasn’t noticeable for 59 minutes of the game and then all of a sudden pots a goal or an assist and the points kept piling up. This is always a hard thing to ask of a young player, but it is something that will allow him to take the next step. With that being said, he only had seven games where he didn’t register a point.

There are some minors quibbles like his two-step quickness and overall strength but both should improve as he continues to mature as an adult and as a professional. The foundations for both are there, it will just take time.

That next step will start next year as he heads to the Utica Comets to begin his professional career. The six games with Utica that he did see over the last few weeks of the season was a good measuring stick for him to see what he needs to work on over the summer. He will need to improve his speed, strength and consistency to make an impact at that level and position himself for a possible NHL career.

Lind still has a ways to go to make the Canucks but he has done everything that he can at the WHL level to be ready to make the move to the AHL next season.

There has been a lot of praise for the Canucks 2017 draft class and Lind is a huge part of that. His underlying numbers were extremely encouraging and the eye test checks out. Now, it’s just a matter of waiting to see if he can continue his upward trajectory.

CanucksArmy’s 2018 Midterm Prospect Rankings

#7: Jonah Gadjovich #8: Michael DiPietro #9: Will Lockwood
#10: Petrus Palmu #11: Jalen Chatfield #12: Evan McEneny
#13: Zack MacEwen #14: Guillaume Brisebois #15: Jack Rathbone
#16: Michael Carcone #17: Cole Candella #18: Brett McKenzie
#19: Matt Brassard #20: Lukas Jasek #21 – #22
#23 – #24 #25 – #27 #28 – #31

  • DJ_44

    I have enjoyed the recent prospect updates from both you (your usual high quality) and Jackson (Jackson should be proud of the professional tone and solid writing in his last two pieces especially).

    That said, and while I appreciate these were mid-term rankings that became end-of-season pieces, I wonder if the overall rankings have changed? Re-reading the Jasek article (noting that Jannik Biechler had him at #12 on his list), and the Sautner ranking of #22 , I would be interested in seeing a revised, end-of season ranking to see where the prospects would fit.

    Again, great work.

    • argoleas

      One are where they appear to be set for a while is Center (Horvat, Pettersson, Gaudette, and Sutter), but they have no new prospects for that position. I wonder if they will try to fill that a bit with a late pick, or just wait until next year while focusing on defense.

      And yes, I do so Pettersson transitioning successfully to Center in a season or two. And Lind may be a good complementary RW for him.

      • DogBreath

        I too want Petterssson to end up at centre, but don’t yet see any evidence that this will be the case. Yes, he played some time there this year, and yes, Benning said he’d end up there, but most/all of his success has been on the wing. I’m curious to hear what people are seeing that makes them think he’s a future centre for the Canucks?

        • argoleas

          So here’s my take: kid has vision, playmaking, speed, and yes, defensive awareness. He plays on the wing because the system he was in favors veterans to be in center. To me, its about the tools, willingness, and translation. He has the first 2, and the question to me is whether he will lose something if he moves to the middle.

          But, if they end up selecting Wahlstrom, that calculus could change.

          • DogBreath

            Thanks – good answer:. We see a lot of centres playing centre at a similar stage in their development so it struck me as odd that he’s been used solely on the wing, but is pegged as a centre.

    • Dan the Fan

      Gaudette should be eligible. I don’t see why he wouldn’t be. Still eligible for the Calder, and this is a “midterm” ranking anyway, so when it was started he hadn’t played any NHL games.

      I think:
      Petterson
      Demko
      Dahlen
      Joulevi
      Gaudette

  • Defenceman Factory

    There are a lot of Rockets fans, myself included, that think the hype around Lind is a bit optimistic.He is 8 lbs bigger than Petterssen and not in any way a physical presence. That chip on his shoulder some people like is described by others as cheap shots and showboating. Dube, the other elite forward on the Rockets, did not match up well with Lind. Aside from the PP they seldom played on the same line. Lind got a lot of 2nd line match-ups.

    The cautions aside Lind was an elite junior player in junior ( so were Linden Vey and Emerson Etem). Lind has improved significantly each year. He is an emotional player but he has gotten better at controlling those emotions. He works hard most nights and is good defensively. His continued development should lead him to be a solid player but it probably takes a couple more years.

      • Sharpshooter

        Would it be better if he didn’t care? He used it as motivation and had a massive point streak as soon as he got back to Kelowna (and this was when Dube was with Canada).

    • TD

      Statistically, one of Lind or Gadjovich should make it. Of course that’s not the way odds work, but most fans are aware that both are still prospects that need to continue developing before they have a chance to make it to the nhl. Same goes for most of their other prospects. But, compared to the past, they have lots of decent prospects some of who will make it.

      • Tedchinook

        I agree with what you’re saying about the prospect pool, but they all have a skill set that could translate to the NHL. So the odds have nothing to do with it. From here on it’s a matter of how badly they want it, and staying away from career threatening injuries.