ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver on June 21-22. Forward Cole Caufield is the No. 8-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the fourth and 16th overall selections in the first round of the draft.
At 5-foot-7 and 162 pounds, American forward Cole Caufield doesn't let his small stature interfere with his ability to be an offensive threat.
The 18-year-old draft prospect had quite the 2018-19 season leading up to this summer's NHL Draft. The forward not only continued to dominate play at the United States National Team Development Program, but he was also named the most valuable player at IIHF U18 World Championship where he led the tournament in goals.
"The game is changing now and it's not really a size game anymore, but more speed and skill," Caufield said to NHL.com. "It's about competing and work ethic; you might have to give more than the other guy, but I've been dealing with this my whole life and it hasn't really affected me."
Caufield, who is Central Scouting's eighth-ranked North American skater for the 2019 draft, joined the NTDP in 2017 after playing the previous two seasons with his high school squad in his hometown of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.
After producing a total of 54 goals and 80 points in 59 combined games with the U.S. Under-17 and Under-18 teams in 2017-18, Caufield continued on his offensive tear in his second season in Plymouth, Michigan.
Caufield smashed the NTDP record for the most goals in a single campaign by scoring 72 times in 64 games in 2018-19. It was 17 more tallies than the previous mark set in 2014-15 by now Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (55 goals).
"Tying that record was in the back of my mind for sure, but most importantly was trying to get the wins," Caufield said in December before breaking Matthews' single-season goals mark.
He finished his two-year stint with Team USA by scoring 126 total goals, the most ever by a player during their time with the training program. His markers were 47 more than Matthews' previous record of 79. Fellow U.S. teammate and Central Scouting's top-ranked North American skater Jack Hughes finished his time at the NTDP with 74 markers.
John Wroblewski, the head coach of the U.S. under-18 team, says Caufield's shot is what impressed him.
"Purest hands I've seen, for sure," Wroblewski said to NHL.com. "When he gets a puck, he's able to prep and snap it so quickly, and it's a laser every time. He's so sneaky with the way he uses his body because there's a lot of core strength that he uses to his advantage with that smaller frame."
Not only has Caufield received recognition from his coaches, but the right wing's skills also impressed his teammates, including Hughes.
"He's probably the purest scorer of this draft class," Hughes said to NHL.com of Caufield. "It's not like he overpowers goalies with his shot, it's that he has a knack for scoring, so it's really easy to play with a guy like that. You put it on his stick and it usually ends up in the back of the net, so no complaints playing with him."
At the under-18 world championship in April, Caufield helped the United States take home the bronze medal with a win over Canada in the third-place game.
Averaging two goals per game, Caufield finished second behind Hughes in tournament scoring with 18 points, but his 14 goals led all skaters and set a new U.S. record for the event. Overall, Caufield's 14 tallies tied the under-18 record previously set by in 2002 by now Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.
Caufield's dominance at the U-18 Worlds was acknowledged when he took home awards for Most Valuable Player, Best Forward and named part of the Media All-Star Team.
In 14 career games at the U18 World Championship, Caufield finished as the U.S. leader in all-time goals with 18, which is also second most in the tournament's history behind only Ovechkin's 23 (14 games).
A likely first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Caufield is currently committed to play in his home state next season as he'll skate for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. He'll be guided by former Avs head coach Tony Granato and play alongside his brother Brock and several of his former NTDP teammates.