Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prospect Pursuit: Kevin Lind - I Plead the 6th

Kevin Lind  (Photo: Dan Reynard/FLickr)
              Kevin Lind waited patiently leading up to the 2010 NHL Draft.  Having done my research and meticulously looking over mock drafts, I saw Lind’s name pop up quite frequently within the first 3 rounds.  To Kevin, where he got picked wasn’t the problem; it was whether he would get picked at all.  The night June 25th, 2010 wrapped up and Kevin’s name had not been called.  The following day, pick after pick, round after round, Lind was eagerly awaiting a call saying that he was going to get selected.  Seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned to hours, and hours seemed like an eternity.  Round by round players were picked and Kevin sat there twiddling his thumbs, waiting for his turn.  What could have gone wrong for such a highly touted defenseman?

Finally, after 6 rounds had passed, Kevin Lind got what he had been waiting his whole life; a call that he was selected by an NHL team.  The Anaheim Ducks picked Lind with their 6th round pick, 177th overall.  After the long awaited delay, one of the members on the Ducks scouting staff realized that one of most solid defensive defensemen in the draft was still on the board.

Kevin Lind grew up around hockey at a very young age and defense had been a position that really attracted him to the game.  Growing up in the Chicago area, Lind was able to see Chris Chelios bud into one of the best American skaters to ever lace up a pair of skates in the NHL.  As Lind’s passion for the game grew, so did his passion to set his sights on making it into the NHL.  The draft is just another stepping stone that Lind has overcome to get closer to “The Show.”

Prospect Pursuit:  When did you first start playing hockey?
Kevin Lind: I started playing hockey when I was 3. I had 2 older brothers who played so I wanted to be just like them.
PP: Who was your favorite team growing up and who was your favorite player(s)?
We've had season tickets to the Blackhawks since before I was born so growing up they were always my favorite team. I watched Chris Chelios alot and I've seen Duncan Keith come up through the Hawks system growing up.

PP: When did you realize that playing in the NHL was a possibility?
KL: I think during my first year in the USHL. I started getting noticed pretty heavily and realized this is what I want to do with my life.
            Since his days with the Chicago Steel, Lind has impressed fans and scouts, alike, but probably not the way you suspected.  He is not a flashy offensively dynamic defenseman.  Lind is one of, if not the best, one-on-one shutdown defensemen to come out of the 2010 draft.  He makes it difficult for skilled forwards to get around him, and his skating is well above average to the point that he is able to recover with little, to no, effort.  A technically sound positional player, Lind’s offensive skills are not to be shunned either.  With ample stickhandling abilities, Lind is able to make smart plays to move the puck out of the defensive zone.  Not necessarily a powerplay quarterback, Lind can hold his own in the offensive zone setting up safe plays for scoring chances.

PP: In a few sentences, describe yourself as a player.
KL: I'm a defensive defenseman. I pride myself on my defensive 1 on 1 play. I consider myself a good skater too.
PP: Who, in the NHL, do you think you most resemble?
KL: I try to play like Chris Pronger. He's mean, well respected, and a great leader.

PP: Do you have any pregame rituals that you do?
KL: I like to get to the rink really early. I take a nap, eat chicken parm, tape my sticks. Nothing too crazy.

PP: Who are some players that you have played with/against that will turn out to be solid for their respective NHL team?
KL: John Moore on Columbus. He's going to be a great NHL player.

PP: Have you set any goals for yourself for the upcoming season?
KL: I just want to develop my game. I want to work on little things and win a national championship.

If, and when, Lind wins a National Championship, it will have to be with the prestigious Notre Dame Fighting Irish.  Currently the Irish are atop the CCHA rankings with a 12-5-1 record, partly due to Lind’s tremendous play on the backend.  After posting 5 points in his first 7 games, Kevin has only had a single point in the past 12 games.  Is that something to worry about? 

Given Kevin’s style of play, defense trumps offense every day of the week and twice on Sundays.  Being a stalwart on the blue line, Lind’s play has gone unnoticed, which, in his case, means he is doing all the right things.  His plus-minus of +6 justifies the effort he puts out on the ice.

PP: Why did you choose NCAA over CHL and what are the benefits of playing college hockey?
KL: I chose the college route to better develop my game. I think its imperative to get a good education and develop the little things in your game.

            Kevin Lind certainly has his head screwed on the right way and knows what he has to do to become a successful player in the world’s best league.  I do not see Kevin making the leap from college to the NHL/AHL this season or next, but if his play continues to improve under the helm of head coach Jeff Jackson, he might have a shot of playing in the minors in his junior year.  Realistically, I feel it would be better for Lind to round out his game and stick to Notre Dame all four years before making the jump.  The Ducks are in no need to rush him into the lineup, but when the time comes, Kevin Lind will be a cornerstone in Anaheim’s defensive corps.
His knack for playing the body, pushing players to the outside, taking away space, and, ultimately, frustrating the opposition will be heavily relied upon to anchor a defensive pairing with an offensive-minded teammate.  Do not expect “Mike Green”-esque numbers from Lind.  The Ducks will likely utilize him as a shutdown defenseman against the opposition’s top skaters.  The day Kevin Lind makes it to the NHL, he will think to himself, “You know what?  Being a 6th round pick isn’t so bad after all.”


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