To some, defenseman Kevin Lind
is best known for scoring the game-winning goal for Team USA against Slovakia in round-robin play of the 2009 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka
Tournament in August -- helping lead the club to a fourth-place finish.
To top Columbus Blue Jackets
prospect John Moore, the 21st pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, Lind is regarded as a dependable defense partner.
"He was my defensive partner with the Chicago Steel (of the United States Hockey League) and was a pretty consistent player," Moore told NHL.com. "We've talked a lot and he's been picking my brain about what it was like on draft day. It'll be fun to see how Kevin does at the draft in June."
"Kevin has plenty of upside; he's a big, strong kid and is tough to play against one-on-one," said Chicago coach Steve Poapst
. "He can handle the puck well and has all the attributes of a player who can play in the NHL one day. We'll just have to fine-tune him and make sure he gets those things that need to be corrected in his game to help him play at this level."
Lind said playing in the Under-18 Hlinka tournament was an unforgettable experience, but he's quick to note that his time alongside Moore, now playing with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers after being one of the Blue Jackets' last cuts in NHL training camp, was invaluable.
"He was the greatest leader I've ever played for," Lind told NHL.com. "He was just an all-around great kid on and off the ice and I still keep in touch with him even though he's been doing so well in the Columbus system. I was fortunate he took me under his wing (in 2008-09) and guided me in the right direction because he knew what I'd be going through this season (in Chicago) and prepared me. I couldn't be happier that I had a chance to share that experience with John last year."
The absence of Moore, who led all Steel defensemen last season with 14 goals and 39 points, shouldn't hinder Lind's ability to prove his worth along the blue line.
"Right now, Kevin would probably be considered our top defenseman since he has the most experience on the blue line and, maybe, in the league," Poapst said. "He made some great strides last year as a rookie coming in and now he's got to step up and be that guy who the rest of the team looks up to."
The 6-foot-2 1/2, 202-pound blueliner is committed to the University of Notre Dame for next fall. Up to this point in his career, Lind's experience in the Hlinka Tournament is his fondest hockey memory.
"It was an overtime game-winner that put us in the bronze-medal game," he said. "I remember it being a three-on-two and Colten St. Clair (USHL's Fargo Force) kind of dropped me the puck and I skated into the slot and fired one five-hole. It ended up going in, so that was pretty special."
Lind knows this season will be a big one for him in Chicago and he's out to prove just how valuable he can be along the blue line -- there were several NHL scouts following his every move at the USHL Fall Classic in September. He admits to patterning his game after Philadelphia Flyers
defenseman Chris Pronger
"Being from Chicago, I love the Blackhawks and guys like Duncan Keith
and Brent Seabrook
, but I try and emulate my game around Chris Pronger
-- a big, puck-moving defenseman," Lind said. "I want to be one of those guys who are mean in front of the net and who opposing forwards are scared to come down on and play against. I want to put the fear into the eye of the forward and make him realize that when he's coming by our net, they're going to get hacked or hit hard."
"I try and emulate my game around Chris Pronger
-- a big, puck-moving defenseman. I want to be one of those guys who are mean in front of the net and who opposing forwards are scared to come down on and play against. I want to put the fear into the eye of the forward and make him realize that when he's coming by our net, they're going to get hacked or hit hard." - Kevin Lind
Riding shotgun with Moore last season, Lind had 2 goals, 5 points and 45 penalty minutes in 50 games with the Steel last year. Those are numbers he intends to improve upon this campaign; he already has 3 points in his first five games, as well as a plus-7 rating that ties him for the top spot in the league.
"I want to work on my quickness with the puck and being able to make those quick decisions," Lind said. "As you reach higher levels of play, speed is what separates the average players from the better players. I'm focused on establishing a quicker game, making good passes and shooting the puck harder."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.