Canucks top 10 prospects: Kole Lind needs a further lift to establish himself as a full-time NHLer

The Vancouver Canucks’ No. 4 prospect has made big improvements in his game, but more is required to stick in the National Hockey League

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Kole Lind’s first professional hockey season was humbling. A player drafted with some buzz in 2017, in his first year with the Utica Comets in 2018-19 he found himself not scoring and not getting anywhere near as much ice time as he was used to in junior.


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It was a humbling experience, but one that he’s done nothing but build off of in the last two seasons, even as a global pandemic raged. Lind is now No. 4 on the 2021 edition of our annual ranking of the top 10 Canucks prospects, up three spots from a year ago.

Lind’s second pro season, in 2019-20, was a massive improvement over the year before. And in 2020-21 he carried that form forward, scoring eight points in eight American Hockey League games before a late-season call-up to the Canucks saw him make his National Hockey League debut.

He skated in seven games for the Canucks but recorded no points or penalty minutes.

He didn’t show much in those games, but given they came after the Canucks returned to action following their COVID-19 outbreak, some consideration for context must be given.


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Even so, Lind has had his taste of the highest level of pro hockey, and like after his first season with the Comets the question is “can he take the steps he needs to take to be a successful NHLer?”

For Ryan Johnson, the Canucks’ senior director of player development and general manager of the Abbotsford Canucks, the team’s newly-branded AHL affiliate, that’s the big question.

“It’s one thing to become a good American league player. Now can you do that every day in the NHL? I think that experience at the end of the season for him what was good, but also maybe a bit humbling in the sense of when you’ve cracked in with our main group and you see the professionalism in drill after drill and what that looks like and the expectations from Travis (Green) every time, it really, it really awakens you to a whole other level (being possible),” Johnson told Postmedia.


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(Prospect No. 4 in daily countdown.)

Age: 22.

Height: 6-2. Weight: 179 pounds.

Shoots: Right. Position: Winger.

Draft year: 2017, second round.

Current team: Abbotsford Canucks (AHL).

Outlook: Fourth-line winger

There was never any doubt about Lind’s puck skills. But like most young players trying to make themselves into NHLers, his path to success is all about playing efficiently and quickly.

The Canucks’ 2017 second-round draft pick (33rd overall) is a smart playmaker in traffic and a great forechecker. It took time to adjust to the AHL, but he found success.

That’s the pattern he’ll need to channel this coming season if he’s going to win a spot as a hustling depth winger for the NHL Canucks. With the Canucks’ tight salary cap situation, there’s a big opportunity to win a spot on the fourth line.


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“Can he take steps to be able to find his role within our big group, and be able to deliver that, on a day-in and day-out basis,” Johnson said.

Kole Lind of the Vancouver Canucks in action against the Edmonton Oilers during an April 16, 2021 NHL game at Rogers Arena.
Kole Lind of the Vancouver Canucks in action against the Edmonton Oilers during an April 16, 2021 NHL game at Rogers Arena. Photo by Rich Lam /Getty Images files

One thing that may serve Lind well is that he skated a little bit as a centre in 2020-21 because the Comets were at times short-staffed, even with a one-year dual affiliation with the St. Louis Blues helping to stock the roster.

He did well enough in the middle, a statement about the quality of his overall hockey talents as anything. Lind is a lifelong winger, and while modern forwards are expected to handle any role needed of them between faceoffs, it makes a difference when your positional role keeps you more in the middle of the ice than on the wings in breakouts and on the rush.

This isn’t to say Lind is a candidate to be the next fourth-line centre for the Canucks, but it’s a point about his adaptability and, again, the overall quality of his hockey sense and vision.


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It was surprising he didn’t pick up a penalty in his NHL cameo. He’s got a well-earned reputation as a bit of a pest, with plenty of penalty minutes on his career stats sheet.

For Lind to truly become an NHL regular, he needs to do everything a little quicker than he did at the end of 2020-21 … and certainly play a little nastier.


No. 10: Viktor Persson.

No. 9: Arvid Costmar.

No. 8: Aidan McDonough.

No. 7: Will Lockwood.

No. 6: Jonah Gadjovich.

No. 5: Jett Woo.

No. 4: Kole Lind.

No. 3: Thursday.

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