One of the remaining things to watch for during the break in the schedule is Cole Caufield’s future. Would he turn pro or stay at Wisconsin? He has chosen the latter as Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal first reported that the winger told Badgers coach Tony Granato that he will return for next season. The Canadiens have since confirmed that he’ll stay in college.
In an interview following the trade deadline, Habs GM Marc Bergevin indicated that the organization’s preference was for him to remain at Wisconsin for another year. However, Caufield’s comments publicly had always been that he wanted to turn pro as quickly as possible. The two sides were slated to discuss the situation and it appears Bergevin has convinced him to stick around.
Caufield is coming off a strong freshman season that saw him lead Wisconsin in scoring with 19 goals and 17 assists in 36 games; his goal total tied for the most nationally among first-year players. However, a big chunk of that came at the beginning of the season as he tapered off a little bit down the stretch.
With the departure of Alex Turcotte to the professional ranks, there will be even more pressure on Caufield’s shoulders for next season which should be good for his development. He should also get another crack at the World Juniors after a tough showing in his first go-round.
Caufield could still turn pro towards the end of the 2020-21 campaign when his college year comes to an end. At that time, he’d be 20 which means he could sign a 2020-21 contract and burn the first year right away as he wouldn’t be subject to the nine-game threshold of 18 and 19-year-olds. However, he wouldn’t accrue enough time towards a season of unrestricted free agency and would become a 10.2c player (offer sheet exempt) at the end of his entry-level deal. If that path sounds familiar (two post-draft years in college and then sign), that’s what they did with Ryan Poehling and it could very well be the plan here as well.