2019 NHL Draft Preview: Cole Caufield, USA Forward

With the NHL Draft Combine underway in Buffalo, perhaps it only appropriate we continue our 2019 Draft preview series by looking at another player from the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). After recently profiling a few of his teammates — like Matthew Boldy and Trevor Zegras — now, we turn our attention to another NCAA-bound player. 

As Rob Blake’s second full season as a General Manager comes to a conclusion, he’s had more time to key in on the identity of his team and the direction of his organization. With the trading away of vets and a fresh infusion of youth, the Kings are looking to continue adding even more youth, speed, and offensively-minded players to address specific holes in the organization. And although the underlying philosophy at the Draft is to often take the ‘best player available,’ teams have different criteria to pinpoint this quality. Thus, occasionally, ‘need’ comes into play.

Featured below is perhaps the most prolific goal scorer among this year’s Draft class. Coming off a rather momentous individual season, he has the attention of nearly every team drafting in the first 20 picks or so. Mock Drafts have him all over the board, adding to the speculation of exactly when some team will reach up and grab him – he could go in the Top 5 or sill be sitting there at No. 15.

COLE CAUFIELD

Vitals

Date of Birth: January 2, 2001
Height: 5’7
Weight: 163 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Right Wing

2018-19 Season

Like several players expected to be selected near the top of the Draft board, Caufield spent his entire 2018-19 season with the USNTDP U-18 team, where he scored 100 points (72 G, 28 A) in 64 games – good for second overall on his team. He also had 18 points (14 G, 4 A) in seven U-18 WJC contests en route to helping the United States earn bronze.

Just As Gr8

Caufield’s 14 goals in the U-18 WJC games ties the all-time record set by Alexander Ovechkin – except Ovechkin achieved this feat in eight contests.

All American Leader

Caufield’s 106 career goals for the USNTDP is the record, previously held by Phil Kessel at 104 tallies.

Splitting Up Is Easy To Do

Caufield broke the career goals record at the same time first-overall contender Jack Hughes surpassed the USNTDP points record. In that historically significantly game, Caufield scored six goals and Hughes assisted on three of them. So, what do you do when two different records are broken with the same puck? You break the puck, of course!

Reuniting And It Feels So Good

At the 2018 OHL Priority Selection Draft, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds took a shot at Caufield by selecting him in the late rounds. A similar attempt occurred when the Sioux City Musketeers called his name 295th overall at the 2019 USHL Draft. However, it doesn’t look like he’ll be joining either team. Rather, in a few months, Caufield will be off to see a couple familiar faces instead. Both he and his older brother, Brock, originally committed to Ohio State about five years ago — only to later change their minds and instead opt for the University of Wisconsin. Not only will Caufield reunite with his older sibling as part of Badgers Nation, but he’ll also be joined by USNTDP teammate Alex Turcotte.

Rankings by Independent Scouting Services

  • 11th by The Draft Analyst. In a separate article, he wrote, “The draft’s most prolific goal scorer has built a reputation as more than just a finisher, so you’ll have to overlook (somewhat) the fact that he tallied an NTDP-record 72 goals, including 27 on the power play. You should also disregard the fact that Caufield is generously listed at 5-foot-7, or that he spent most of his season riding shotgun next to Jack Hughes. If it were 1995 or 2005, Caufield would probably have all those things held against him, regardless if this sniper can be a dangerous inside player who can fill the net and battle his tail off for real estate near the goal. The good news is that smaller players, let alone the type like Caufield that win puck battles, are now allowed (and encouraged) to exploit the common slow-footedness of several NHL teams. Furthermore, Caufield has proven he can score regardless of the line he plays on or where he starts his shifts. To put it simply, Caufield is not just some sniping teenager winger who needs a star center to do the work for him. He fights hard and anticipates puck travel to perfection, which helps him be an effective penalty killer and legitimate threat to score while down a man.”
  • 12th by SportsNet, explaining: “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.”
  • 10th by Craig Button, who described Caufield as “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.”

See For Yourself

Here’s a highlight reel of Cole Caufield’s seven games at the U-18 World Championship. All he does is score.

 

Final Comments

In summation, Caufield has drawn a lot of attention and understandable hype to himself with his historic season. Breaking goal scoring records, regardless of league, is not an easy feat. Even scoring on a regular basis can be a bit of a challenge at times; especially in Los Angeles, where the team hasn’t had the same player lead the club in goals over consecutive seasons since Ziggy Palffy in the early 2000s. Further, the NHL has evolved in a way where the biggest criticism of Caufield – his small stature – doesn’t hold back players the same way it did for decades. While drafting for need is a slippery slope, there is no doubt the Kings could benefit from having a consistent threat to put the puck in the net, and Caufield fits that bill.

NOTE: David Hofreiter was the lead contributor in the gathering of information used in this article. You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.

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