2016-17 Team: Kelowna Rockets (#16)
Date of Birth: October 16, 1998
Place of Birth: Shaunavon, Saskatchewan
Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 175 lbs
Position: Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): 21st (final)
- Future Considerations: 38th (final)
- ISS: 24th (May)
- Bob McKenzie: 33rd (Mid-season)
- Craig Button: 54th (final)
- The Hockey News: 27th (final)
For some reason, the Kelowna Rockets consistently do two things that always draw attention to their organization. First, they’re always in contention in the Western Hockey League. Second, they consistently recruit good bantam and midget players and turn them into National Hockey League players. Arguably their most interesting prospect in the 2017 draft class is winger Kole Lind.
Lind made the jump from midget to the WHL in 2015-16 and played a key secondary role in the Rockets’ success with equal parts smart passing and savvy shooting. He expanded on this effective rookie season with a superb sophomore year in the Dub that saw him lead the stacked Rockets team in scoring. Considering the players that Kelowna has on their roster, the mere fact that Lind was consistent enough to lead the team in points and finish top 15 in the entire league in scoring is quite impressive.
Fundamentally, Lind is a smart player. He moves around the ice very well and has a good sense of where to be and where his teammates will be. He’s a very effective puck distributor and has an effective, though not amazing, shot – his 30 goals this season are as much a product of his positioning as his shooting. He’s not a huge guy, though he’s got the frame to add some muscle, but that hasn’t mattered; he plays a very effective physical game and often buzzes around the ice hitting everything in sight on the forecheck. Sometimes this gets him into some trouble away from the puck, with the physical side pulling him out of position, but he’s improved in that respect over the last couple of seasons.
The most interesting thing about Lind is how much he’s improved his game in minor, technical ways since his WHL debut. He seems to absorb information on the ice and make adjustments, which is something that has really informed his progression dating back to his bantam and midget days. If he can keep absorbing and improving, he could be a very strong prospect for an NHL club.
NHL Draft Projection
Lind has appeared anywhere between the mid-to-late first round to the early second round on most recent draft projections. He seems a decent bet to go around 30th overall, though he could be gone earlier.
“Lind brings a great amount of skill to the table and he’s got a projectable NHL frame that just needs a bit more meat on the bones. That’s an easy thing to accomplish in time and thanks to his ability to create chances and wire pucks into the net, he’s a likely first-rounder at this summer’s draft. For now, the focus is on rounding out his work.” – Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News.
- Good hockey sense.
- Good vision, strong distributor of the puck.
- Uses teammates well.
- Plays bigger than his size.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Could stand to shoot more often.
- Needs to add some muscle to his frame to survive pro hockey.
- Could stand to improve his play away from the puck.
Kole Lind projects as a second or third line scoring winger. His skill-set may also lend itself to special teams work as a secondary option.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8/10, Defense 7/10
Lind hasn’t represented Team Canada at any major events and he hasn’t won any major awards.
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.