Montreal hockey fans were giddy in June as their beloved Canadiens may have gotten the steal of the 2019 NHL Draft when they selected Cole Caufield 15th overall.
The sniper holds the USNTDP (USA Hockey National Team Development Program) goal record from his two years representing the stars and stripes.
Caufield’s 126 goals were 22 more than two-time Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel’s previous goal record of 104. Caufield is also ranked third all-time in points for the US program with 180.
Many teams passed on Caufield at the draft due to concerns about his size. Caufield’s 5’7, 163lb frame made teams look the other way. That was not the case for the Montreal Canadiens who selected the teenager with their first-round pick.
Caulfield has now taken his talents to the University of Wisconsin where he joined his older brother Brock to play in his home state for Tony Granato’s squad.
The big question for Caufield entering his freshman year was can he continue to produce without the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, Jack Hughes as his centre. Hughes holds the USNTDP point record with 228 points and he played on a line with Caufield during their time with the development program.
Caufield quickly showed his doubters he didn’t need Hughes at the next level. He netted four goals in two preseason games against the University of British Columbia of U Sports, including a hat trick in one game. So far this NCAA season, he leads the Badgers with nine points in six games. He also leads the NCAA with seven goals.
Caufield is expected to represent Team USA at this years World Juniors and will play a pivotal role in getting the Americans back to the gold medal game.
Canadiens fans won’t have to wait too long to see Caufield play at the Bell Centre. The way he is dominating the NCAA as a freshman shows he is gifted. Montreal has a young core coming up with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki, Victor Mete, Cale Fleury and NCAA alumni Ryan Poehling all under the age of 22. Expect to see Caufield play either in Montreal or Laval next year if he chooses to turn pro.