While many expected the Habs to draft a defenceman with the 15th overall pick, they went in a different direction with the selection of right winger Cole Caufield.
DOB: January 2nd, 2001
Weight: 163 lbs
CSB: 8 (North American skaters)
Hockey Prospect: 11
Future Considerations: 12
The Hockey News: 9
TSN (Button): 4
TSN (McKenzie): 9
McKeens: He is short, but not exactly small. His squat figure is stocky and well-built. He has a very fast top speed and an explosive first few steps. He has extremely fast soft hands, without which many of Hughes’ lovely feeds would have clanked off his stick and been turned over, instead of being converted into sirens and lights and goals. He is patient with the puck and doesn’t rush his shots.
Recrutes: “If he plays, he’s going to be a top-two line scoring winger,” opined one Eastern Conference scout. “But if he doesn’t end up being a scoring winger then he’s not playing.”
Future Considerations: His agility and nose for the net are reasons why this player could develop into an elite level scorer at the professional level, despite his small frame. Defensively, while he battles hard along the boards, he rarely comes out on top due to his lack of strength and size. He plays with loads of energy and always looks for a scoring chance when hitting the ice. While his skating, shooting and passing skills speak for themselves, he is hailed for his vision and hockey IQ and can escape pressure with ease. He’s an intriguing package because of his such dynamic potential.
Draft Prospects Hockey: An explosive, balanced and agile skater. He finds open space and puts himself in ideal positions. He’s stocky and tenacious so, despite his size, he wins his share of puck battles. Active on the fore check. His wrist shot is powerful and jumps off his blade. His entire shooting arsenal is all high end. Great hand-eye coordination and can convert on even bad passes by knocking the puck out of the air.
Hockey Prospect: There’s an offensive efficiency to what Caufield does that goes beyond his attributes. He’s one of the most naturally gifted junior scorers we’ve ever seen and apart of that is due to his bravado and willingness to challenge the goalie. Snipers generally go through droughts where you can see within their body language that their over-thinking the shot placement and have lost their confidence. That doesn’t happen with Caufield, his confidence very rarely dips and if he does have off games, his ability to elevate his play back to his expected output is remarkably consistent.
Elite Prospects: A game-breaking goal scorer that, despite his diminutive frame, thrives under pressure and is difficult to contain. Defensively, he’s uncomfortable having the puck in his own end for long and he’ll make the extra effort to pressure around the blue line and take away cross-ice options. Upon procuring puck possession, he’ll be the first to explode up ice in-transition. The hallmark of his game is his exceptional goal-scoring ability. He has a shot that absolutely leaps off his stick with pinpoint accuracy when he lets loose and a low centre of gravity that facilitates fast and flashy puckhandling at pace.
The Hockey Prospector: He will likely never be known for his defensive game though he doesn’t neglect defensive assignments and works hard in that area. He’ll also probably be ineffective in the physical part of the game but that’s not why you draft this player. You draft this player because he’s the best pure goal-scorer available in the NHL Draft since Patrik Laine.
LWOS: Caufield has an excellent arsenal of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot are both deadly accurate and have good power. They also have very quick releases which fool goaltenders. Caufield also has a very good one-timer. He has a knack for finding soft spots in the defence and getting his shot off. Caufield can even score on his backhand. He is not afraid to battle in the dirty areas of the ice and goes hard to the net. When he is there, he can score on rebounds and deflections due to his soft hands and excellent coordination.
Caufield is committed to the University of Wisconsin for next season but he probably won’t have the typical timeline of a college player. He’s someone that isn’t going to really fill out his frame while he’s there as, let’s face it, there isn’t a whole lot to fill out with a 5’7 frame. He’s someone that should be productive early and often with the Badgers and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him turn pro within two seasons. He’ll move faster than most of Montreal’s college selections.