Can the Vancouver Canucks look at their prospects pool and say “quality over quantity”?
The Vancouver Canucks have a solid number of prospects who have been either steals from the later rounds or undrafted free agent signings out of NCAA or the juniors. So far through our rankings, we have seen numerous hard-working character players who have high-ceiling projections.
But no NHL team is ever built with a dozen Milan Lucics or with a dozen Jonah Gadjoviches. No winning blueline is built with six Evan McEnenys, nor is it built with six Kristoffer Gunnarssons. At the end of the day, the true question is this:
Do the Canucks have quality prospects?
I mean, a prospects pool is only as good as the NHL players it produces, right?
As great as having ten picks in a seven-round draft is, those ten picks pale in value compared to two picks in the first ten selections. As we dive deeper into our prospects rankings and into the top ten this week, we will be able to put together a true assessment of the quality of the Canucks prospects pipeline.
No more undersized boom-or-bust prospects. No more overage juniors who have big question marks whether they will ever succeed at the pro level. It’s time for the real deal. It’s time for the real players.
We present to you Week 3 of The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking.
The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking
Our TCW staff ranked all Canucks prospects. The criteria: whatever each writer thinks is important. Current position in the organization, talent, potential, and chance of NHL success. All prospects under 24 years of age were considered as long as they did not spend significant time in the NHL.
After looking at centre Adam Gaudette last time, let’s see what winger Kole Lind has got to offer.
No. 7 RW Kole Lind
Weight: 178 lbs
Drafted: 33rd Overall, 2017 Entry Draft
2016-17 Stats: 70GP – 30G – 87PTS – 79PIM (WHL, Kelowna Rockets)
Hailing from the same hometown as star Hayley Wickenheiser, does Kole Lind have the magic to become a top player for the Canucks in the coming years? Canucks General Manager Jim Benning was wondering on Day 1 of the 2017 Entry Draft why teams weren’t picking Lind. Let’s see what the Canucks liked about prospect Kole Lind.
Strengths: Playmaking ability & Speed
Kole Lind had 57 assists this season, a number that stands out in any hockey league. He certainly showed why he is one of the best playmaking wingers in the WHL right now. At first, Lind was considered to be a top-100 pick. But he worked hard and played himself to be in the conversation for a pick in the late first round.
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Lind has the speed to open up passing lanes and change angles. He has the frame to protect the puck. Skating and puck protection mean that Lind can afford to be patient with the puck on his stick to let plays and space develop.
Playmaking numbers also indicate that Lind is a great passer with a smart understanding of the ice even when playing at a high tempo. His passes are accurate and skilled.
Lind is a great skater, which is a must in today’s pro ranks as a winger. Speed helps Lind to also contribute defensively. Lind is a responsible defensive forward as well because of how smart he can be on the ice. He does not shy away from the physical game either, as can be seen with his 79 PIM.
It isn’t as if Lind can’t shoot the puck decently, too. Lind’s shot isn’t too strong or quick but is accurate enough to work in the junior ranks.
Weaknesses: Lack of groundbreaking offensive upside
Although Lind is a good all-around player who plays responsibly and smartly, he does not have a dynamic offensive skill set. His shot is not going to be a force in the pro ranks and his size doesn’t really wow in the big leagues. In fact, he will need to put on some weight to his now-lanky frame and still maintain his speed.
Lind won’t dazzle with dekes and he won’t impress with a clinical finishing ability in tight. He will need to find a way next year to still produce despite added attention to defend him in the WHL.
Whatever the case might be, the addition of Lind to the pipeline brings a much-needed right winger to the system.
Projection: Middle-six winger
There are not so many playmaking wingers anymore in the NHL. With the winger slots being mostly associated with snipers and power forwards, it is refreshing to find that a smart and speedy winger has the tools to be an effective passer.
The lack of offensive flash limits Lind at a second-line potential while his smarts and his decent frame, allow him to be at least a top AHL forward or a fourth-line forward if he chooses to play a more punishing game.
We project Lind to end up as a middle-six playmaking winger.
Lind was invited to the World Juniors showcase for Team Canada this past month. He was not too noticeable and was overshadowed by the play of fellow Canucks prospect winger and frequent linemate Jonah Gadjovich.
– 2017 TheCanuckWay Prospects Ranking Top 20 –
#8 – C Adam Gaudette
#9 – RW Jake Virtanen
#10 – LW Jonah Gadjovich
#11 – D Jordan Subban
#12 – F William Lockwood
#13 – G Michael DiPietro
#14 – D Guillaume Brisebois
#15 – D Evan McEneny
#16 – F Petrus Palmu
#17 – D Jack Rathbone
#18 – D Jalen Chatfield
#19 – F Cole Cassels
#20 – D Kristoffer Gunnarsson
The Honourable Mentions
While Lind does not make the highlight reels too many times, he is a relatively high pick that the Canucks feared was not going to be available at #33. Lind, at this point, does not look like a flashy and shiny pick as an early second round selection. But with his studious approach to the game, there is little that stops him from being a very smart player with the skills to make plays happen.