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2019 NHL Draft Profile: Yeah, yeah, we know Cole Caufield is short

This is a normal hockey player. Find a new slant.

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And we’ve moved right along to one of the flashier prospects on our list! It’s Cole Caufield! He’s coming off a historic season in the USDP, and also a historic tournament at the IIHF U18 tournament, indeed, he seems to be smashing scoring records at just about every opportunity

BSH 2019 Draft Profile: Cole Caufield

Position / Team: C/RW / U.S. National U18 Team “A”, USDP

2018-19 Statistics: 72 G, 28 A in 64 GP

Size: 5’7”, 157

Pre-draft rankings

No. 8 (North American skaters) by NHL Central Scouting

No. 12 by Future Considerations

No. 9 by ISS Hockey

No. 5 by Pronman/The Athletic

What’s there to like?

In short, there’s a whole lot to like. The most immediately apparent strength is his scoring touch. 72 goals in 64 games isn’t a typo, that’s his actual stat line. This kid can put the puck in the net, pure and simple.

How, you ask? The big key is his shot—somewhat unconventional in form, but it’s laser accurate and got quite a bit of power behind it, and has served him well in beating goalies cleanly. But it isn’t as though he’s just a sniper, and that’s it. Caufield has shown a strength in generating chances in bulk, making plays under pressure. His speed has proved a major asset here—he isn’t an absolute burner, but he’s a plus skater and has enough speed to create some space for himself, while also possessing the skill to handle the puck well when he gets up to speed. That makes for a difficult combination to slow down.

And this is where we have to acknowledge that yes, indeed he is small, but it hasn’t exactly proved to be a huge weakness of his, at least while he’s been playing against guys in his own age group. He’s obviously not the biggest guy out there, but there’s a certain tenacity in him, and you’re not too often seeing him getting pushed around. Apologies to the narratives on that one.

What’s not to like?

He’s small. And maybe you don’t actually care about that (personally, I’m not too fussed about it), but the concern about him being able to get strong enough and durable enough to hang at the NHL level is legitimate. He certainly would have something to prove, there.

But if you’re looking for other potential concerns, one would center around his defensive play. His play when his team is hemmed into their own end leaves something to be desired (which is fixable, certainly, but it also sounds a little scary when you think about how often the Flyers have fallen into the trap of doing, well, that).

And, of course, there’s the last detail that he’s played a lot alongside Objectively Good Hockey Player Jack Hughes, and one wonders how much of a dip his production might take if the two were separated. This isn’t a full piece worthy of disliking—Caufield’s individual skill seems enough that he would be able to drive positive results on his own—but it’s a question to keep in the back of your mind.

How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?

One of the big things we keyed in on about Caufield is that he scores goals, and we have long been saying that the Flyers could use a goal-scorer. They’re pretty well stocked with playmaking forwards, and now they need someone who can actually make something out of those plays. So this would make him a pretty exciting addition.

The Flyers’ prospect pool is a little weaker at right wing, so he wouldn’t have quite as many players to compete against for a future role in this position, especially if the Flyers go out this off-season and fill the 3RW vacancy with a shorter term option. It’s easier to see a path for him into the regular lineup than if he, say, only played center for his whole life and wasn’t super comfortable shifting to wing.

Could the Flyers actually get him?

This is tough. Because he’s made a huge jump in these rankings in just a few months, and it’s hard to look at a player who some people are projecting to go in the top 10 and think that he could fall to 11. Caufield put in some very good work at the U18s to raise his draft stock, and it may well have been enough to push himself into the top 10 and out of the Flyers’ reach.

That said, while we prospect watchers may look at a 5’7” player and think that his skills are the most important part of the equation and his height is just a detail, but all teams don’t seem to be quite that forward thinking. So it’s conceivable that teams could talk themselves out of picking him and go with a “safer” option, and then he could fall to the Flyers. And they would have to not talk themselves out of liking him.

If I had to guess, though, he’s selected before 11, but him falling to the Flyers certainly isn’t outside of the realm of possibilities.

Highlights

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