The hardest thing to do in the NHL is score goals. The league demands speed and skill and we are seeing that more and more with the evolution of the NHL superstar. Year after year we are seeing more skilled players come into the league with talent that we have never seen before, this year’s draft will not differ from that much as we will see an abundance of talent go at the top of the draft board including names like Kaapo Kakko, Bowen Byram and Jack Hughes.
There’s a player that has shot up draft boards like he was stuffed with helium this year and that is likely due to his ability to do the most difficult task for a hockey player, and that task is to score goals. Cole Caufield is who I am talking about and from watching his game there is not a lot to hate about picking him if he were to fall to the Vancouver Canucks at the ten spot in the draft.
Cole Caufield was consistently hovering around the 8-15 range in many scouts rankings throughout the season, Craig Button of TSN began his “Preseason Craig’s List” with Caufield at number 11 and Corey Pronman had Caufield at number 17 on his “Way too early top 25 for the 2019 NHL Draft” back on June 25th, 2018. Craig Button has hinted on a recent radio hit that Caufield could go as high as third overall to the Chicago Blackhawks.
I have reason to believe that the Los Angeles Kings are also interested in Caufield as he has had phone conversations with the entire front office of the Kings. If Caufield is available for the Canucks at 10 they should strongly consider selecting him as he is now the current single season record holder of the United States National Team Development Program.
GIF Thread of Caufield's 6 goal game.
— Chris Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) May 26, 2019
Caufield had multiple games scoring more than four goals in one game, including a six goal performance earlier this season. These high scoring games were enough for him to shatter the USNTDP single season goal record held by Auston Matthews (55 in 2014-15). Though a lot of Caufield’s success is due to being a linemates with projected first overall pick Jack Hughes, Caufield was still the one who was able to get himself in the right positions to be able to bury 72 goals in 64 games.
Here’s what some of the scouts are saying about Cole Caufield.
NHL front offices talk about the team that gets you into the playoffs, and the team that wins in the playoffs. No doubt Caufield is on the team that gets you in.
-Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet
Hyper-skilled but undersized winger brings all the offensive tools you can handle. Owns the best release in the class and that helped him click at a goal-per-game with The Program. Owns good edge work and a non-stop motor but could use that extra gear at his stature. A pure finisher.
-Cam Robinson, DobberProspects
Caufield scored 72 goals this past season. That wasn’t a typo. He’s one of the best goal-scorers to become eligible for the draft in recent years. Caufield’s shot is special. There’s plenty of snipers out there, but Caufield’s wrist shot technique is like a slingshot. He gets control of the puck and fires it a million miles an hour on target.
-Corey Pronman, TheAthletic
USNTDP right wing Cole Caufield, an offensive dynamo who is just 5-foot-6 3/4 and 162 pounds, rounds out the top 10. Caufield, who recently broke Phil Kessel’s record for career markers with the USNTDP, is the best pure goal scorer available in the draft.
-Craig Button, TSN
It doesn’t take a draft guru to know that Cole Caufield can score, it’s far and above the best part of his game. Cole possesses a quick release that is as accurate as any prospect we will see in this draft. A good portion of his goals come from quick releases on the left side of the ice, whether that be via the one timer or just being able to quickly release a wrist shot with accuracy to beat the opposing goaltender, Cole gets goals.
He was sprung for plenty of breakaways this season with the USNTDP and capitalized on many of those chances and seems to always come up with a new move as there was not a lot of repeats on his breakaway chances this season.
Caufield may be the best pure goal scorer in the 2019 draft and a big reason for that is due to his positioning in the offensive zone. Cole is very skilled at finding a way to sneak around for a backdoor goal and that fit very well with the USNTDP this season as Jack Hughes & Co. loved feeding the goal scoring beast that is Cole Caufield.
The positioning in the offensive zone is great but if you don’t have the quick release to go along with being in the right spot you would not be considered a top 10 prospect, the good thing about Cole Caufield is that his shot is electric as well. USNTDP Coach John Wroblewski was quoted earlier this year that the amount of crossbars that Caufield hits in practice is ridiculous and that he has never seen anything like it.
Scoring may be Caufield’s best trait but when I asked him what his most underrated skill was he talked about his playmaking ability. This USNTDP team is loaded with offensive talent and that creates many odd man rushes for them to create some beautiful passing plays that result in some gorgeous goals.
— Chris Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) May 16, 2019
When I asked Cole about this 2 on 0 breakaway with Alex Turcotte he laughed and said they almost passed it too many times and were lucky to get a shot off.
Caufield will project onto a team first unit powerplay and though he was dangerous from the left side of the ice at five on five, the USNTDP decided to use Caufield in the “bumper” position on the powerplay. A spot that was very effective for him as Jack Hughes would play the right side on the powerplay and was the trigger man to feed Caufield for many shot opportunities and would take shots that generated rebounds for Caufield to finish up.
Caufield’s quick release and accurate shot shows the potential to grow even stronger and quicker when he gains his adult strength and that is something that would fit very nicely along side a powerplay unit of Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat.
It’s got me excited and also got Cole pretty excited.
When I asked about playing on a line with Pettersson and Boeser.
"That would be pretty cool to do, they are great players and they make a lot of things happen so I think I could be a big part of that"
— Chris Faber 🤙🔥🎙 (@ChrisFaber39) May 20, 2019
Damn right it would be pretty cool.
In conclusion, Cole Caufield has committed to the University of Wisconsin Badgers next year and will get to play alongside some great talent like K’Andre Miller and Ty Emberson. Cole will also get to link up with his brother Brock Caufield who will be in his sophomore season with the Badgers.
The University of Wisconsin is home to one of the most respected coaches in the college hockey, Tony Granato. Granato was a four year player for the Badgers in the mid 80s and went on to play 773 games in the NHL including four season that saw him score at least 30 goals, he has spent time as the assistant and head coach of the Colorado Avalanche for 13 seasons, in which he had a winning record 12 of those 13 seasons.
The path is paved for Caufield to develop for a year or two with Wisconsin and then make an immediate impact on an NHL team as soon as the 2020-21 season, that is if he doesn’t jump into an NHL lineup at the end of his collegiate season this year, though with his size I would assume he jumps into the NHL after two college seasons.
But I have been wrong before.
Many of the most recent mock drafts have Cole Caufield going before the Canucks pick at 10. Jokke Nevalainen of DobberProspects has Caufield going eighth to the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Green of NBC Sports has Caufield going fourth to the Colorado Avalanche and TSN Hockey has Cole Caufield going fifth overall to the Los Angeles Kings.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article I believe the Kings are very interested in adding Cole Caufield to their prospect pool but if Chicago and Colorado pass up on Bowen Byram it would surprise me if the Kings were to pass on Byram. There have been crazier things that have happened at the NHL draft though, I guess that’s why a pair of tickets are going for 400 dollars on the secondary market.
My prediction is that either the Blackhawks or Avalanche don’t pass on Bowen Byram and that would open the door for the Kings to select their man Cole Caufield in the five spot.
But I have been wrong before.
If Caufield lands in Vancouver it would provide a tremendous boost to the prospect pool and having a scorer like Caufield slide into the powerplay with fellow young studs like Pettersson, Boeser and Hughes would create one heck of a first powerplay unit where all the players excel at putting the puck in the net with exceptional passing and shooting abilities.
If Caufield is there, you have to take him with the 10th pick, he scores goals and the Canucks need to score goals. It’s as simple as that.
Here are the links to the Matt Boldy and Cole Caufield interview I did last Monday.
You can also just search “Canucks Conversation” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud.
Apple Podcast Link