Why the Canadians’ Cole Caulfield could be America’s next star

Cole Caufield must now be very comfortable wearing red, white and blue — or some combination of it —.

The small winger has played for the U.S. National Team Development Program (2017-19 season) and the U17, U18 and World Youth Team national teams. His second season with the U20 team was golden.

He was dressed in red and white at the University of Wisconsin (2019-21), where he ended his college career with the 2021 Hobby Baker Award as the top men’s player in college hockey. Now he is wearing the Montreal Canadiens blue, white, blue and red in the Stanley Cup final.

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“Honestly, it’s very special,” he said between the second and third games. “I really didn’t expect this to happen in your first year, your first few years. But at this moment, you enjoy it every day.”

Just over two years ago, the 5-7-year-old winger slipped from the draft board to the Canadians, ranking 15th overall.

“It’s a perfect fit. They now have a great young team and I really look forward to being part of such a team,” he said after being selected in the 2019 Vancouver Draft.

indeed. Considering what we have already seen, 14 teams may now blame themselves for not catching the right winger.

The 20-year-old native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin made his NHL debut against the Fire on April 26 and skated in 10 games, scoring 4 goals and 5 points. In his young career, he now participates in more playoff games than the regular season. The third game of the Stanley Cup final was his 18th playoff game, in which he scored 9 points (4 goals, 6 assists).

“He is very talented,” Caulfield’s head coach Nate Liman at the 2021 FIBA ​​World Youth Championship told Sports News. “He is a very good skater, he has a very good edge. He can find the hole very quickly. He can transition, he has a good transition skating, a good transition hockey awareness. And he can finish the game. To me In terms of speed, it seems that the higher the speed, the more suitable for his game.”

Gliding in a team that includes young compatriot Nick Suzuki and veteran Tyler Tofley, he combines speed and agility with deadly shots and an extreme desire for goals. Leaman realized this desire when Caufield and Trevor Zegras were skating for the US gold medallist team.

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“No matter what training, no matter when practice-this will be a warm-up exercise-they are scoring, they are legal, like, happy, excited to score,” he said. Liman called the two “game breakers” and “difference makers”.

The excitement, the desire to be a “good man” is also evident in Wisconsin, where he scored 30 goals in 31 games last season.

“He’s very confident. He’s a shooter, buddy. Give me the puck and I want to shoot. He has always been like this,” Wisconsin coach Tony Granato When talking to SN in April, Before Caulfield’s first NHL game.

“It doesn’t matter if he plays in the NHL, he plays in college, he plays in international games, he plays hockey. He likes to score, he likes to help his team.”

Although the Canadians are still fighting in the Stanley Cup final-and hope to avoid sweeping their opponents on Monday-this page can already be turned to next season. In the case that he only played a few regular season games, he will definitely become the best contender for the Calder Trophy in the preseason. If the NHL really participates in the 2022 Olympics, can he wear the American hockey jersey he is familiar with?

Since the United States “believe in miracles” in Lake Placid in 1980, the United States has never won a gold medal in the men’s ice hockey Olympics.

“He is a kid who just wants to win,” Liman said. “His first task is to win. His second priority is to score, but his first task is to win.”

The smiling, optimistic kid, the kid who said “I hate losing” in the draft, Tolfier said: “We didn’t drink coffee in the morning. He has already been smiling and jumping around,” playing for his country again. ? In the past two World Junior Games, he has been struggling on the international stage (3 goals in 12 games), but he quickly became one of the biggest weapons the United States has on both ends of the NHL ice rink.

Perhaps this is the difficulty that the United States needs to overcome. Like Patrick Kane, Alston Matthews, Alex Debrinkart (Caufield likes to follow suit), Jack Eicher, Caulfield’s national team friend Jack Hughes and yes, Cole Caulfield. People.

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