2017 NHL Draft: Lind rockets into draft after breakout season
Kelowna Rockets forward Kole Lind already knows exactly how he’ll be spending the days leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago next weekend.
“I’m going out a couple of days early, actually, to catch a couple of (Chicago) Cubs games, so that should be pretty cool. Just trying to enjoy the moment,” Lind said.
The Shaunavon, Sask. product is heading into Draft weekend ranked 23rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, due in part to a massive outpouring of offensive production from the 18-year-old this past season.
The 2016-17 season turned out to be a breakout year for Lind, who more than doubled his point total from 2015-16 as he took on a more prominent role in Kelowna’s offensive corps.
In 70 games for the Rockets this season, Lind put up 30 goals and added another 57 assists to lead his team in scoring.
“It definitely helps a lot, especially in a draft year, having a career year, but I think a lot of other guys still had career years this year,” Lind said. “I think it does help, obviously, but I think you can’t look at it as much and just try to play your game and hopefully they like what they see.”
Lind also noted that he gives a lot of credit to his teammates and coaches in Kelowna for making the season such a success.
“I think you can never not say anything about your teammates,” Lind said. “They were great to me this year. We had a great team and I think that made it a lot easier for me to do my part.”
Still, the 6-foot-1, 178-pound right winger’s offensive output helped propel a high-powered Rockets team to the WHL’s Western Conference Championship.
Lind made his presence felt in the playoffs, too, posting six goals and six assists in 17 playoff games, another huge improvement on 2016’s totals.
Following up on his impressive showing during the season, Lind went on to place in the top 25 in four of the 14 fitness tests at the NHL Combine in Buffalo in early June.
“It was really cool. I haven’t really experienced anything like it,” Lind said. “I met with a lot of different people and it was really cool meeting the people that I dream to play with one day.”
He added that the experience also gave him some insight into what it’s like to be a professional hockey player.
“I think just from translating from the ‘Dub to the NHL, I think growing up is a big part of it and acting a lot more responsible and I think that’s pretty cool just acting like a pro and all that.”
According to NHL Central Scouting, Lind is a “very good offensive player with game-breaking ability.”
Central Scouting also noted Lind’s excellent skating ability, NHL-calibre shot and his precise passing ability and timing, which allows him to generate scoring chances.
“I think lots of people see me either as a goal scorer or a playmaker and I think I’m kind of both. I don’t really do one better than the other,” Lind said.
“Using my smarts to get around the ice and make good plays is the biggest thing in my game.”
Kole Lind – Right Wing
Weight: 173 pounds
Hometown: Shaunavon, SK
Acquired: Round 4, 87th overall – 2013 WHL Bantam Draft
2014-15: 6 GP, 0G-1A – 1 point
2015-16: 70 GP, 14G-27A – 41 points
2016-17: 70 GP, 30G-57A – 87 points
The 2017 NHL Draft takes place June 23 to 24 in Chicago, Illinois, with coverage provided by Sportsnet beginning at 4:30 p.m. MT.