Some say that the first step is always the hardest, but for Kole Lind, the final step is going to be pretty tough.
Lind saw an improvement in every aspect of his game during his second professional season. He more than doubled his point production from his rookie season with the Utica Comets of the AHL and played in every Comets game before the AHL season was cancelled. His confidence was on another level after learning what the AHL was all about in his rookie season as a 20-year-old.
He just turned 22 in October and is now eyeing up a spot with the Vancouver Canucks. This will be tough for him to do out of camp with so many bottom-six wingers in the organization. With the uncertainties of the 2020-21 season ahead of us he could find himself on a Canucks extended roster right out of training camp if he were to have a good showing in the eyes of head coach Travis Green and the management group.
A couple of weeks ago the AHL announced that they are aiming for a February 5th start date. With two week quarantines and other safety precautions set by the Canadian government, it will be tough for Lind to play in Utica and then be called up to the Canucks. With the proposed all-Canadian bubble looking like the most likely scenario for an NHL start date, Lind is in a tricky situation. This article isn’t about that but I just wanted to get it out there.
I want to talk about the prospect that comes in at number seven on our rankings list.
Our ranking in 2019 had Lind at number 10 on the list. After putting up 44 points (14g-30a) as a 21-year-old, he deserves the jump in the ranks.
Lind was a mainstay on the Comets’ power play last season. He was used in the bumper position and was able to set up some pretty goals while utilizing his high-end passing ability in tight. He saw a major improvement to his decision-making at the AHL level and with that, was a dangerous force with the man advantage.
He was able to score goals in a variety of different ways including this beautiful play with Sven Baertschi.
Here's where Kole Lind did his damage on the powerplay:
He played the bumper position all year long and had three deflection goals (example in video), while adding two from rebounds and one from a one-timer on a beautiful cross ice pass from Reid Boucher. pic.twitter.com/71lQoNB7nS
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) July 8, 2020
There’s a world where Lind is on the second power play unit for the Canucks in a few years.
He works the bumper position very well and does have the ability to find passing lanes to set up easy goals for his teammates. Lind had 11 assists on the powerplay this season, eight of which were primary assists. He can certainly contribute on the right half-wall, a place where he found himself rotating to at times in the 2019-20 season.
His playmaking is hands down the best part of his offensive game. From time to time he can surprise you with a deadly shot but his best offensive skill is definitely his passing. His ability to extend plays helped him lead the Comets in Corsi for percentage last season. He had 30 assists last season and 18 of them were primary assists.
Some of the prettiest goals scored by the Comets last season came during primary assists for Lind. This has to be one of my favourite assists of his.
Kole Lind puts it through a defencemen's legs on a perfect pass to Lukas Jasek for a tap in. Second assist goes to Justin Bailey.
Kole Lind is playing some great hockey of late.
2-0 Comets after 20 minutes. pic.twitter.com/Xbvkgxs0Q8
— 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗶𝘀 Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) January 23, 2020
This is the year for Lind to see some NHL action.
I’d bet on him at least getting a few games in this year with strong potential to make the team out of camp for the 2021-22 season. The biggest problem for Lind is that the Canucks currently have nine wingers that will be under contract for the 2021-22 season who are currently ahead of him on the depth charts.
(JT Miller, Brock Boeser, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Jake Virtanen, Tyler Motte, Zack MacEwen, Nils Hoglander and Vasili Podkolzin)
That could change with more improvement in Lind’s game but he will definitely have an uphill battle ahead of him to crack the roster in the near future. His best chance is if he impresses during some patches of call-up duties this season and then could push a player out of the lineup at the beginning of the 2021-22 season.
I’ve got all the time in the world for Kole Lind. He’s a kind Saskatchewan kid who works his ass off in the offseason. Though he was a prolific scorer in junior, he has been able to translate his game to more of a bottom-six contributor role.
He could be an offensive threat in the bottom six and his game fits very nicely with Adam Gaudette’s game. There could be some chemistry between those two young players.
Lind is on his way and is almost at his final destination. He needs to continue to work hard and get better every day because even though he may be ready to make the jump to the NHL, there are outside forces that could keep him away from it.