Cole Caufield | USA U18, 5’6″ 155lbs
Bob McKenzie: 18th
The first four centers on the list are players who are expected to be on the board by the time the New York Islanders get their turn. Unless they go on a tear in the playoffs and “fall” further down the draft order.
Cole Caufield is expected to go between 15th and 20th on draft day. Bob McKenzie has Caufield at 18 on his draft board. So outside of where the Isles are expected to pick. If you read what Bob McKenzie had the to say about Caufield you’d understand why that might be:
"Cole Caufield, all 5–foot-6-3/4 of him, is arguably the pre-eminent natural goal-scorer in the draft. He has 31 goals in 35 games to lead, by far, the U.S. U-18 team in goals."
With that kind of testimony, it’s obvious as to why Caufield might go as early as 15th. Every team is looking for a pure goal scorer. But there are a few factors that might play into him dropping come draft day.
First, it’s his size. McKenzie has Caulfield list as 5’6″ 3/4 and 155lbs. How will a player like Caufield deal with defenders like Victor Hedman who stand at 6’6″ and 222lbs? That’s a full foot and 67lbs in Hedman’s favor. Even Johnny Gaudreau doesn’t look as small next to Caufield. Gaudreau is 5’9″ 165lbs.
Then there’s the factor that Caufield typically plays wing next to Jake Hughes (the consensus for the first overall pick this year). Is Caufield a product of Hughes? Can he be productive on his own?
Teams will think long and hard about Caufield’s potential away from Hughes. And then they’ll factor in his size. Both might be enough to convince some GMs to take another player. Hopefully, leaving him on the board for Lou Lamoriello to step up and take the skilled center/winger.
According to McKenzie, being away from Jake Hughes isn’t an issue for Cole Caufield. He can still put up the points.
"Yes, the prospect who is viewed as the second coming of Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat often lines up alongside Jack Hughes but Caufield continued to score goals while Hughes was away at the WJC. In fact, in six games against NCAA competition while Hughes was at the World Junior Championship, Caufield scored seven goals."
Caufield sounds like the perfect target for the New York Islanders, assuming he’s still on the board when they go up to pick. They’ll likely have someone else in mind, but their eyes firmly fixed on Caufield should he slip to where they can take him.