Cole Caufield’s College Career Could Come to a Close Tonight

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens will have an interesting decision to make with their best prospect if Cole Caufield’s Wisconsin Badgers lose tonight and are eliminated from college playoffs.

The Montreal Canadiens added an exceptional goal scoring talent to their prospect pool when they drafted Cole Caufield 15th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. The undersized winger only fell that far in the draft due to his small stature, as his incredible shot and goal scoring ability were second to none heading into the draft.

Caufield enrolled to play college hockey in his home province of Wisconsin. The Badgers added an incredible amount of talent for this season with Caufield being joined by fourth overall pick Alex Turcotte and a probable top 15 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in Dylan Holloway. They were expected to bring plenty of offence to the Badgers this season and hopes were high in Wisconsin for the team’s chances of competing for a national title.

Things didn’t exactly go as planned for the team. While Caufield has had a great season, scoring 36 points in 34 regular season games, his team did not climb the standings the same way Caufield climbed the scoring charts.

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Wisconsin finished last in the seven team Big Ten Conference. They were far from even jumping to sixth place in the standings, and entered the conference playoffs last night as a big underdog. Their play to end the regular season gave them hope heading into their first playoff game, but that optimism was quickly dashed last night.

The Badgers finished the regular season going 5-1 in their last six games. They split a pair of games against Penn State, then swept Arizona State and Ohio State. All three were ranked inside the top ten at the time of their meetings with Wisconsin.

The Badgers then headed into this weekend, facing an Ohio State team they just beat twice last weekend. It was a 2 vs 7 playoff seeding, but the #7 team made a statement just before the series began.

The #2 team however, made an even bigger statement with their play last night.

Caufield’s Badgers were annihilated by the Ohio State Buckeyes in Game 1 of a best-of-three series that will be completed this weekend. The game was 2-0 after the first period but an offensive outburst pushed it to 6-0 by the end of the second. The Buckeyes continued to pour it on and increased their lead to 9-0 by the middle of the third period.

The Badgers finally found the back of the net late in the game and made the final 9-1. Any optimism and confidence that they showed up with in Columbus was thoroughly sniffed out.

They do have a chance to bounce back tonight. Caufield’s Badgers will need to win tonight and tomorrow night to move on in the conference playoffs. If not, their season will be over by the end of the weekend.

That could lead to an interesting decision by Caufield. He has mentioned in the past that he wants to sign with the Montreal Canadiens as soon as his college season ends and general manager Marc Bergevin has said that he will try to get Caufield to return to Wisconsin for one more year.

If Caufield really does not want to return to school, he could sign with the Habs and finish the year either in the National Hockey League or report to the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League. Adding Caufield to an injury depleted Rocket team that is battling for a postseason berth would be good experience for the 19 year old sniper.

First, he will head back out on the ice with the Badgers and hope to erase the memory of a 9-1 defeat. It is possible Wisconsin can bounce back and beat Ohio State twice in a row (they did it last weekend) but the most likely scenario at this time has Caufield’s college career ending before Monday.

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If Wisconsin is eliminated, I would expect Caufield signs his entry-level contract in the next few days and then finished the year with the Laval Rocket.