Montreal Canadiens: What’s next for Cole Caufield?

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) /

Drafted 15th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2019, Cole Caufield has been playing with the Wisconsin Badgers for the past two years. When general manager Marc Bergevin addressed the media last week, he mentioned that he believed that Caulfield was ready to play professionally after his 2020-2021 college season. Some people think he would be better off with the Rocket in Laval, others think he should play his third year with the Badgers and some think he is ready for the NHL.

Cole Caufield played his first year of college with the Badgers in 2019-2020 where he accumulated 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points in 36 games. As a freshman, Caufield impressed many people with his statistics, but this season, not only is he dominating the league statistically, but he has also improved many aspects of his game. We already know how good his shot is, but his speed, skating, vision, and puck-handling have also improved since he was drafted. Caufield now has 17 goals and 16 assists, for 33 points in 22 games. The young sniper also played in the World Junior last January where he and the United States won the gold medal. Wearing the ‘A’ on his shirt, Caufield played a leadership role. He didn’t score much but he still had an impact on the team.

Laval Rocket

Since Marc Bergevin told the media that he was expecting Caufield to play pro next season, many fans have expressed their desire to see him play in the NHL. However, Laval might be the best option now.  There isn’t a spot for Caufield available for Caufield with the Habs on the right-wing. It wouldn’t be a good decision to put him on the fourth line, since he is an offensive player. Few minutes on the ice would be bad for his development.

Not only would playing in the AHL for the Rockets be great for his development but with coach Joël Bouchard,  Caufield would most likely play on the first line and on the first power-play unit. It would give him a lot of confidence and he would potentially dominate the AHL like Trevor Zegras is doing this season with the San Diego Gulls. Caufield could demonstrate his talent since this is a big leap from the NCAA.

Wisconsin Badgers

After being drafted by the Habs in 2019, Caufield committed to the Wisconsin Badgers. In his freshman year, he was awarded the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year award. The young superstar is nominated for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award which is rewarded to the nation’s best player.

Even though Bergevin said he was expecting Caufield to play professionally next season, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if he played another year in the NCAA. Johnny Gaudreau, who Caufield has been compared to, played a third season with Boston College before jumping to the NHL. In his third season, the 5’9 left-winger gathered 80 points in 40 games. When Gaudreau came to the big league, he had a clear impact on the Calgary Flames.

Caufield doesn’t have anything to prove in the NCAA anymore, but playing there for a third season, could help him with his confidence. He would most likely jump to the NHL after college and could have the same impact as Gaudreau did.

Montreal Canadiens

Right now, the Canadiens have a much better lineup than they did last year, especially on the right side. Brendan Gallagher, Josh Anderson, Joel Armia, and Corey Perry occupy the right-wing. Caufield could definitely play on the third line with Kotkaniemi and Tatar, but with KK’s slow development, it would be better to see Caufield play with Suzuki. With that being said, there could be a spot for Caufield on the roster, but he has to earn it.

The player Caufield has compared himself to since he was drafted was Alex Debrincat. Debrincat is 5’7 just like Caufield and they both have an impressive shot. The Chicago superstar started playing in the NHL at 20 years old, where he collected 28 goals in 52 games. This would mean that Caufield could be NHL ready. His size doesn’t have an impact on his chance to make the NHL next season, just like with Debrincat. Caufield has gotten much better since the 2019 draft. If he is given the opportunity to play with Suzuki or to play on the power-play, he could definitely impress.

The Montreal Canadiens number one prospect, Cole Caufield, might be a little uncertain about his future. Whether it will be with Montreal, Laval, or the University of Wisconsin has yet to be determined. Caufield’s amazing talent will be on display soon enough on a professional level.