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William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog since 2012. Douglas joined in 2019 and writes about people of color in the sport. Today, as part of's celebration of Black History Month, he profiles Cayden Lindstrom, an 18-year-old center for Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League and No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft.

Cayden Lindstrom is looking forward to turning a setback into a triumph.

The 18-year-old center for Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League is week to week following surgery to repair an upper-body injury he sustained in December.

The injury and operation denied Lindstrom, No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft, the opportunity to showcase his skills at the 2024 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January.

“It’s definitely not the best thing, but there’s nothing I could really do about it, so I’m trying not to be too down about it,” he said. “My goal is to come back even stronger than I was before, become more consistent, a better leader and a better player overall.”

Cayden Lindstrom headshot

Lindstrom, who hasn’t played since Dec. 16, leads Medicine Hat with 27 goals in 32 games and is fourth in points with 46 (19 assists).

Medicine Hat coach Willie Desjardins said Lindstrom’s injury and being out of action for an extended period could impact how some NHL teams view the Chetwynd, British Columbia, native heading into the 2024 draft June 28-29 in Las Vegas.

“But in saying that, I think clubs know what he can do when he’s healthy, that’s the positive side of it,” said Desjardins, who coached the Vancouver Canucks from 2014-17 and served as interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in 2018-19.

Lindstrom had at least a point in 12 straight games (21 points; 13 goals, eight assists) at the time of his injury.

“He’s gifted athletically, he can really shoot a puck and he’s got great speed,” Desjardins said. “He can overpower guys. He passes the puck like a pro and he’s hard to play against. He’s even a better person. He can take criticism. He smiles. He’s excited to be at the rink. He knows where he wants to go, and he’s driven to his goals.”

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One of those goals was to represent his country. Lindstrom (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) played for Canada in the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, an annual Under-18 tournament that was played in Breclav, Czechia and Trencin, Slovakia, Aug. 1-6, and in the 2023 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Charlottetown and Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Nov. 2-11.

Lindstrom had four points (two goals, two assists) in six games for Canada White at the hockey challenge. He had three points (two goals, one assist) in five games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, including Canada’s opening goal in their 3-2 overtime win against host Czechia in the gold medal game.

“It was an amazing feeling,” he said. “With that packed crowd, it really gets a heartbeat when you score a goal like that in a gold medal game.”

Lindstrom said it was more amazing watching his friend and Team Canada teammate Malcolm Spence, a 17-year-forward for Erie of the Ontario Hockey League, score the championship-clinching goal on a breakaway off a Czechia turnover in overtime.

“It was unreal just how he made that turnover and then also the patience going to the net,” Lindstrom said. “And he was pretty tired because he was out there for a while. He somehow still pulled it off, which is amazing. It was a great goal.”

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Lindstrom said playing in those tournaments boosted his confidence and motivated him even more entering his NHL draft year.

“It definitely helped me a little bit, just going and seeing all the different towns around the world,” he said. “Playing against and with all those great players was a good eye-opener for me to know what I have to work on and what I have to do to become a really good player.”

Lindstrom said he also wants to be a role model who inspires other people of color to play hockey.

“When I was younger, seeing a Black guy playing in the (NHL), it would always kind of give me motivation, no matter who the guy was,” he said. “Even watching (Los Angeles Kings forward) Quinton Byfield now, it’s really motivational seeing what he’s doing in the League, He’s obviously having a great season.

“It’s just really kind of inspiring and motivating to kind of want to do the same thing those guys are doing in the NHL."

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