We’re going back to the Western Hockey League for the Nations Network’s 37th ranked prospect. That prospect is Kole Lind of the Kelowna Rockets.
Lind started the season as a projected third round pick but has been so impressive that his draft stock has risen to the point where he could be selected late in the first round. Known for his anticipation and play making abilities, Lind had a noteworthy draft minus one season in 2015-16 with 41 points in 70 games. He exploded offensively this season, showcasing exactly what makes him such a good player.
Let’s take a closer look at the right winger!
- Age: 18-years-old, 1999-10-16
- Birthplace: Shaunavan, SK, CAN
- Position: RW
- Handedness: R
- Height: 6’1″
- Weight: 176 lbs
- Draft Year Team: Kelowna Rockets – WHL
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A smart and skilled but not overly dynamic offensive forward…a slippery skater who is able to hang onto the puck for lengthy periods thanks to his good awareness of where pressure is coming from…is very agile and accelerates quickly, enabling him to get a bit of room from opponents…has good puck skill using his hand position and speed to bring pucks in tight to his body, protecting it…can run himself out of space by trying to hold onto the puck and make that extra move…very heads up passer who leads his man perfectly…makes gorgeous saucer passes…is a playmaker but doesn’t mind taking shots, although his release is a little slow…his speed and smarts allowed him to find a lot of openings to get chances…defensively he uses his stick to close off options…not consistently physical but has shown some fire in his belly after the whistle, getting in faces and causing commotion…strong awareness and smarts should help with his potential to contribute at the pro level.
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.
Looking at the point breakdown for his season, it’s clear that he started to go on a tear after game ten. This reinforces his rise up the draft rankings, as he exceeded expectations with his production. When comparing him to other first time draft eligible WHL forwards:
Lind is behind the consensus first round picks out of the Dub, and slightly below Mason Shaw, who is in the same late first or early second round pick territory are Lind.
Unfortunately because the WHL is still living in the dark ages, we don’t have shot data to compare.
Lind ranked 25th in the WHL in points per game, and was 41st in primary points per game (0.86). He was named to the WHL (West) Second All-Star Team this past season.
The right winger produced at a first line rate in every category while averaging an estimated TOI of 15:28 per game.
Lind hasn’t represented Canada at the international level yet. He wasn’t eligible for the U18 tournament this past April due to his October birthday, but he could’ve been there in 2016 and wasn’t due to Kelowna making a run at the WHL title. If he continues his strong play, he could be in the conversation for the World Juniors this upcoming December.
Due to his early birthday, Lind would be eligible for the AHL during the 2018-19 season.
Using pGPS to look at Lind, a very impressive 46.1% of comparable players went on to become NHL players. That is extremely noteworthy number with quite a few impact players in that mix.
Most of the cohorts topped out as a middle six forward but that xP/GP is high with 44.7.
There is a lot to like about Lind’s game. He generates offence in a variety of ways and plays the game with pace. The NHL frame is there, just needs to fill out and add strength, which will come with time. When I saw him in November, everyone was fixated on Cal Foote, but a scout mentioned that he was someone to keep an eye on. Since that time his stock has only risen. At this point, it’s easily justifiable to select Lind in the late first round. He’s been that good.