Draft Prospect Profile: Cole Caufield

  

Each day leading up to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, held on June 21 in Vancouver, we will be taking a look at one of the top prospects available for the Chicago Blackhawks with the No. 3 pick.

Third in the series of prospect profiles is center/right wing Cole Caufield.

Cole Caufield
2018–19 Team: U. S. National U18 Team “A”
Date of Birth: January 2, 2001
Place of Birth: Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Height: 5-foot-7
Weight: 163 pounds
Shoots: Right
Position: Center/Right Wing

NHL Central Scouting final ranking: No. 8 per NHL Central Scouting – North American Skaters

NHL comparable: Theo Fleury

Cole Caufield scored 72 goals in 64 games this past season playing for the U18 program. That is an astounding number. Playing on a line with potential first overall pick Jack Hughes, and on a once-in-a-lifetime deep team, allowed Caufield to take advantage of his excellent shot. With that being said, his numbers would still have been impressive without Hughes.

Listed at 5-foot-7 and 163 pounds, Caufield does have a smaller frame on the surface. However, the Wisconsin native is solidly put together. In today’s NHL, we are seeing smaller players each year have success. A comparison to Alex DeBrincat, who scored with ease in juniors, would not be too far off, however, Caufield will not fall to the second round like DeBrincat.

Caufield uses his soft hands and excellent shot to bury a high percentage of his chances. What separates Caufield from many is his ability to find open ice to receive passes. His skating allows him to find open areas with good edge work and a nice, extra acceleration when needed. He also does a good job of keeping his feet moving when forced to play a contact game by the defense.

A little ball of energy on the ice, Caufield is far from a liability in his own zone. Many times taking on battles along the boards. As he matures, he will have some edge to his game even with the slight frame.

Projection

Goal scorer.

Caufield is going to score a lot of goals at the NHL level. His scoring ability is elite and projects as top line forward. On a stacked team up the middle, he’ll be able to switch to right wing, and with his size, may open up more opportunities to use his scoring talents. If playing center, his ability to get to the tough areas will be important. He appears to have the DNA to get into tough areas against his opponents and nothing in his game suggests that he would not against NHL level talent.

Caufield is also going to see plenty of time on the power play. He has the type of skills that Chicago fans have seen with Artemi Panarin on the man advantage. Although he needs to add strength, his one-timer is excellent. He can also bury wrist shots with ease, as the puck jumps off his stick. Even if it takes time for Caufield to adjust to 5-on-5 play in the NHL, he might still have a big, immediate impact on a team’s power play.

Implications for the Blackhawks

Chicago fans have been enamored with Caufield ever since the DeBrincat comparisons were made. Both are small-sized snipers. And they would likely play opposite sides. But, that being said, Chicago would need to pair each (or both) with skilled (i.e., top 6 quality), road-grader type forwards—a commodity that (outside of Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad) the Hawks presently lack at both the NHL level and in the prospect pipeline—to help relieve some pressure off them and open up space. As we are seeing in the Stanley Cup finals, speed and skill are good, but sheer force is also needed to win in the NHL playoffs.

Reports have hinted at the fact that Chicago does like Caufield. That is not a surprise. He is a great talent in the draft. However, the question must be asked, how many smaller forwards can this team win with? Fans and pundits keep saying the game has changed (favoring smaller, slighter players). Yet the combined size and physicality of the Stanley Cup winner every year seems to suggest otherwise.  Could you build an elite team around Caufield and DeBrincat after Kane and Toews start to decline? If Chicago were to pick Caufield, then perhaps a greater focus would be necessary to finding true centers and larger, complementary top 6 forwards for the future in upcoming drafts and/or free agency.

But at No. 3 in the draft, Caufield would probably be a reach for the Blackhawks.

What others are saying

“Right now, a diminutive scorer with great wheels, passing hands, a feisty side and an incredible goal scoring ability. Hides his release point and shows great velocity and needs very little time or space to shoot and score. He plays heavy on his stick and displays a wicked backhand, a quick wrist shot and devastating one-timers. The Wisconsin native is committed to the University of Wisconsin, and size is NOT a concern.”
Bill Placzek – Draft Site

 

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    Ray Napientek
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    Each day leading up to the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, held on June 21 in Vancouver, we will be taking a look at one of the top prospects available for the
    [To continue reading full article, click here: Draft Prospect Profile: Cole Caufield]

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