After a disappointing rookie season in the American Hockey League (AHL), Kole Lind bounced back during his second pro campaign and has re-established himself as one of the best Canucks prospects. (from ‘Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich struggled as first-year pros, but Canucks hope that made them stronger,’ Vancouver Courier, 09/09/2019) The 21-year-old was sixth in scoring on the Utica Comets and showed growth in every facet of his game.
What separates Lind from lots of other top prospects is the versatility of his game. He is skilled enough to produce in an offensive role, but also possesses the tenacity and grit to thrive in any team’s bottom six. With that said, it’s now time to find some comparables to see what type of player Lind can be in the NHL.
To narrow down my search, I compiled a list of AHL forwards between 2013-17 who were 21 and produced at a similar clip to Lind. I chose not to include the most recent three seasons because those players most likely haven’t reached their full potential yet, which could skew the results.
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Moreover, every one of these players had to score at a clip between 0.7-0.75 points per game (Lind averaged 0.72 points per game this past season) and needed to do it during their second full season in the AHL. They also had to play in at least 30 games to ensure an adequate sample size.
|Player||Season||Points per game||Career outcome|
|Oliver Bjorkstrand||2016-17||0.7||Top 6 forward|
|Laurent Dauphin||2016-17||0.74||Career AHLer|
|Kerby Rychel||2015-16||0.73||Career AHLer|
|Brock McGinn||2015-16||0.73||Bottom 6 forward|
|Anthony Mantha||2015-16||0.75||Top line forward|
|Alexander Khokhlachev||2014-15||0.7||KHL player|
|Mark McNeill||2014-15||0.7||AHL/Austrian league player|
|Ty Rattie||2014-15||0.71||KHL player|
|Sven Andrighetto||2014-15||0.72||KHL player|
|Shane Prince||2013-14||0.7||KHL player|
|Sven Baertschi||2013-14||0.71||Former middle 6 NHL forward|
|Greg McKegg||2013-14||0.72||Fringe NHL player|
As you can see, players who produced at a similar rate to Lind range from legitimate top-line forwards to skaters who never made it as an NHL regular. Thankfully, we can narrow down our search by taking into account individual playstyles and production in previous seasons.
First of all, it’s worth noting that Lind probably won’t reach the heights of either Oliver Bjorkstrand or Anthony Mantha. Those are the only players to become top-six forwards out of everyone on the list, but both scored at a significantly higher rate than Lind did during their time in junior and their rookie AHL season.
Even though he produced at a comparable clip, Lind also doesn’t project to be a player similar to ones such as Laurent Dauphin, Kerby Rychel, Alexander Khokhlachev, Ty Rattie, Sven Andrighetto or Shane Prince. Those skaters possess games that are much more one dimensional than Lind’s, as they’re all highly skilled players who don’t have the grit or defensive integrity to play in the bottom six. Much like Nikolay Goldobin, they’re only useful when used in a scoring role, but weren’t able to stick in the NHL due to deficiencies in other aspects of their game.
Mark McNeill, meanwhile, lacked the foot speed for play in the NHL. Lind isn’t the quickest skater either, but has decent acceleration, so this shouldn’t be too much of a concern for the 21-year-old. Sven Baertschi, on the other hand, was an effective middle-six player for the Canucks a few years ago, but his career has been derailed by concussions. (from ‘Canucks injury update: Sven Baertschi diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome,’ The Province, 02/09/2019) However, Lind’s game doesn’t resemble Baertschi’s either, as the latter is a flashier player who relies much more on his skill.
Lind’s Likeliest Outcome
That leaves Brock McGinn and Greg McKegg, who I believe are the two best comparables for Lind. They both play hard-nosed games and are able to chip in offensively from time to time, especially McGinn. Furthermore, their production in junior and their rookie AHL season was also quite similar to Lind’s. Canucks fans will most likely hope that Lind will resemble McGinn more than McKegg, as the Carolina Hurricane is a lot more gifted offensively between the two.
That doesn’t mean that McKegg isn’t a useful player, as he’s been able to become a full-time NHL player on a promising New York Rangers team; this is still a nice outcome for a second-round pick like Lind since most skaters picked in that range don’t end up becoming NHL regulars.
Taking these comparables into account, I believe that Lind can become a useful bottom-six player who can chip in about 20-30 points per season. However, his impact will go beyond the scoresheet, as his scrappiness and hustle will provide the team with energy, much like what Antoine Roussel does. More importantly, Lind could make the Canucks sooner than expected, and I have no doubt he will become a fan-favourite in no time.