Brayden Fengler / July 21, 2021
Although his name may not have been leaked by throwing a fish, it was reported earlier Wednesday morning by Rick Dhaliwal that Kole Lind would indeed be the player selected by the incoming Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft.
How Are You Feeling, Do You Like the Show?
It’s really hard to feel any type of way, good or bad, about Seattle’s decision. In the months leading up to the expansion draft, the feeling around Vancouver has largely been of indifference at the thought of who the Canucks might lose to Seattle. One of the benefits of the Canucks being both a young team and a poorly performing team is that they were ideally suited to be only lightly grazed in the expansion process.
Most of Vancouver’s true talent was protected due to their age, and the few stars that weren’t automatically exempt from expansion, made for easy choices to fill the protected players list.
It was speculated for a while that the final protected spot would be a coin flip between Kole Lind and Matthew Highmore. However, with the addition of Jason Dickinson in the Canucks most recent trade with the Dallas Stars, Dickinson took that final protected spot, leaving both Lind and Highmore exposed.
Halt on Holtby Selection
Some other rumblings around the 49th parallel suggested that Braden Holtby may have been a heavily considered target for Seattle. Early reports indicated that even if Seattle didn’t have sole interest in Holtby as goalie for their club, they may have looked to flip him to another team. It would have been ideal this off-season if the Canucks could’ve scrubbed the 31-year-old’s $4.3M cap hit off their books. However, money was reportedly exactly the issue, as salary retention to some degree was demanded by Seattle if they were to take Holtby.
It Is What It Is
So here we are: Kole Lind, the right-winger drafted 33rd overall in 2017 by the Vancouver Canucks, is no longer a member of the franchise. Lind is only 22 years old, so he is still a few years out of the 25, 26-year-old range when young players typically show their true colours as far as peak skill development. Lind could very well click with the Kraken, and his selection could become yet another log on the fire of the anti-management movement in this city. However, at this point in time, there is no reason to think that that will be the case.
The reality is that Lind is the definition of unproven. Last year was his NHL debut, and he only played 7 games for Vancouver, with his only takeaway from that time being a -4 record, and 0 points. To contrast this with the 8 games he played in Utica, he was a point per game player for the Comets, with an even 8 points by the end of his 2021 AHL campaign.
Comparing those two stats may indicate that he will eventually have more to give at the NHL level. But it’s also worth noting that all AHL teams were of course missing their top players, as those players would’ve found themselves on the taxi squad for their respective NHL teams. So yes Lind was point per game over a small sample size of games in the AHL last year, but he wasn’t even playing against the best that the league had to throw at him.
A Lump of Kole?
If Lind doesn’t develop further in Seattle next year, there is also the not too unlikely possibility that the Canucks could actually find themselves acquiring Lind back.
This idea was highlighted in a conversation I had with Doug Venn of the Canucks Speakeasy Podcast:
Of the Canuck players made available to Seattle, I think Lind has the most upside. It will be interesting to see if Lind can crack the Kraken’s opening night roster, as he’s no longer waiver exempt. Would the Canucks put in a waiver claim if he is sent back to the AHL?
@dougvenn on Twitter.
This idea of course depends on Lind’s development next season and would require Seattle to make the judgment call that Lind is underperforming to the degree that they’d risk losing him for nothing.
Vancouver may have had to do the same thing next season if they did end up keeping Lind. Lind would’ve really needed to prove himself in training camp to justify a spot on this Canucks team. Especially if Benning and Co. are still looking to acquire more pieces than just Dickinson.
Lind is a right-shot right-winger, something that of all players that the Canucks have, is not exactly a combination that they are lacking in.
The much-anticipated addition of Vasily Podkolzin (left-shot right-winger) will be happening next year. The Canucks filled their third centre need with Dickinson, they still need a reliable depth left-winger. They’re going to have defensive needs if Alex Edler and Nate Schmidt walk, and if they do end up trading Holtby, then they’re going to need a solid backup to fill his role before Michael Dipietro is NHL ready as well.
Both the position Kole Lind plays, and his current skill level, shouldn’t give Canucks fans too much of a reason to mourn his departure from the franchise. In a conversation with Nick Bondi from the Power of the Towel podcast, he put it like so:
I’m not too worried about Kole Lind getting taken by Seattle. He probably projects as a bottom-six player, and those are always somewhat easy to find. It will be interesting to see if the Kraken see the same out of him.
@nickbondi on Twitter.
So Long, Goodbye
It is of course a loss for the Canucks to say goodbye to any prospect, as the team has so few in their system with many recently graduating to the NHL team. However Kole Lind was not a player bursting at the stitches with potential, nor did he represent a position that the Canucks are in desperate need to fill.
The reality of Lind’s selection is that no matter how he turns out with the Kraken, there is almost no way that the Canucks could’ve truly known what they were giving up with him. There is of course the fear that the young 22-year-old could become an elite NHL winger and torment the Canucks for years to come, but at this point that reality seems unlikely.
But of course, Canucks fans don’t need much to start freaking out. So everyone, let’s take deep breaths and think about the reality of Kole Lind’s recent performance, and not stress on the hypothetical performance he may have in Seattle.