Montreal Canadiens: Cole Caufield’s Usage in Gold Medal Game Shows Growth

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: Cole Caufield (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - JUNE 21: Cole Caufield (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield growing his game.

Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield was drafted with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The biggest reason he was a first round pick was his terrific goal scoring ability.

In the 2018-19 season, Caufield scored more than a goal per game with the United States National Development Team. He set records for most goals scored in a single season with the program.

There were questions about his size and all-around game, but his goal scoring ability was tantalizing enough to make him a mid first round pick.

Caufield has since moved to the University of Wisconsin and just won a gold medal with USA at the World Juniors. A year ago, he was a depth piece on an American team that lost to Finland in the Quarterfinals. USA looked like a much more mature, difficult team to play against, and Caufield was a huge reason why.

He played five game at the 2020 World Juniors and had one goal and one assist, and upped those totals to two goals and five points in seven games at this year’s event. However, it was the growth in other parts of his game that were more noticeable.

Caufield played the whole tournament on a second line with Matthew Beniers and Matt Boldy. Boldy was drafted a few spots before Caufield and is a big, two-way left winger who wins battles along the boards, has great vision and terrific hands around the net. Beniers is likely to be a top five pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and is a great two-way player as well who can transition the puck up ice with ease.

Caufield fit in perfectly on a line with the pair of two-way forwards. In the gold medal game, USA took a lead in the first period, and then increased it to 2-0 very early in the second period. That would be all the scoring in the game, with USA holding on to a two goal lead for the final 39 minutes.

In previous years, a player like Caufield might miss a few shifts over the course of the third period and be replaced by a more defensive minded player. Shutting down Canada who had 12 forwards who were first round picks in the NHL Draft wouldn’t be a task for the goal scoring Cole Caufield, right?

Actually, the opposite proved tone true. As the game got closer to the end and Canada continued to pour on the pressure, Caufield’s ice time actually increased. In the first period, the game was tied for 13 minutes, and Caufield played 4:27 which was only 7th among forwards on the team.

After Trevor Zegras scored just 32 seconds into the second period, Caufield was on the ice quite frequently. He played 5:41 in the second period, and then 6:14 in the third period. His third period action as USA clung to a two goal lead was third most among forwards on the team, just behind Alex Turcotte and linemate Matt Boldy.

While tournament MVP Zegras played 4:48 in that period and Arthur Kaliyev was sat for a few shifts for a more defensively responsible winger, Caufield took a regular shift the entire period and saw his line thrown out and double shifted at times in defensive situations.

All of this flies in the face of Caufield’s reputation. A lot of people will tell you he is a one dimensional goal scorer who is small and they will question whether that one dimension will follow him to the NHL level.

Well, that particular dimension of goal scoring is the most important thing a player can do in hockey and Caufield has not struggled to do it at any level to this point in his career. Also, if you watch him closely, he brings a lot more to the table than just scoring goals.

Habs need to rely on youth for success. dark. Next

His usage in the biggest game he has played in his career proves that and the gold medal he can be seen wearing around his neck is proof. Stop calling Cole Caufield a one dimensional goal scorer because he just proved he can excel in a two-way role on the biggest stage a teenaged hockey player can find.