Canucks: Can Kole Lind play himself into protection from expansion?

Apr 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Kole Lind (78) shoots the puck against Toronto Maple Leafs in the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Kole Lind (78) shoots the puck against Toronto Maple Leafs in the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Vancouver Canucks‘ prospect, Kole Lind was impressive in his NHL debut on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 22-year-old forward did not look out of place, finishing the game with over 17 minutes of ice time — behind only J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Tanner Pearson and Nils Hoglander.

The Saskatchewan kid out of Swift Current worked his way up and down the lineup with good offensive awareness and sharp defensive capabilities, gaining trust within the coaching staff as the game went on. When the final horn sounded, to the surprise of many, Lind had racked up two shots on goal, three attempted shots, one blocked shot, one hit and a giveaway.

No points in his debut, but that’ll come in time. The main point here is that he got into a game and he looked good doing it. So good, in fact, that he’ll likely get another big opportunity tonight. And if he can keep playing like the way he did during his debut, then maybe he becomes a player worthy of protection in the upcoming Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.

The NHL’s newest team will have the honour of plucking one player from each of the NHL’s 31 other teams. Those players will come together to form the Seattle Kraken of the 2021-22 season. Each team can protect up to seven forwards, three defencemen, and a goalie. Here’s a prediction as to who Vancouver will likely protect:

Now before this season got rolling, protecting a player like Lind wouldn’t seem like a high priority, but given the Canucks current roster, the contract status of certain players, the overall financial situation of the team, and the leaps and bounds taken forward in the young kid’s game and suddenly protecting Lind might actually be what’s best.

Not only has Lind overcome challenges in his young professional career, but he’s beginning to show signs of becoming the player he was drafted to be (33rd overall in 2017). A guy who can play both the wing and centre position, contribute inside the top-six, and play a powerful two-way game.

Lind doesn’t have to be a game-changer right away. Even if he can show promise between now and the end of the 2021 season, it’s likely management thinks long and hard about where they stand with him down the road. The Canucks need another talented centre, and Lind could be that guy for Vancouver.

Lind put up 87 points with the Kelowna Rockets the year he was drafted and followed it up with another 95-point season before joining the Utica Comets. He struggled in his first AHL campaign notching just 17 points. He bounced back with a 44-point second season before tallying eight points through as many games in 2021.

If the ice time in his debut is any indication as to what Travis Green and Jim Benning are thinking ahead of expansion (17:12), then he just has to go out there and put it all together.

Next. Canucks Gameday: One last clash with the Toronto Maple Leafs. dark

What do you think Canucks Nation? Is Lind likely to be protected ahead of the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.