Right wing Cole Caufield is five-foot-seven on his tallest day. But his legend grows daily at the World Under 18 Championships in Sweden
With 11 goals in four games, Caufield is the talk of the tournament heading into Team USA’s quarterfinal match-up against Finland. He’s only three goals shy of Alexander Ovechkin’s tournament record of 14 goals set in 2002.
Caufeld boasts 13 points and Jack Hughes, his center, has 12. Both could break Nikita Kucherov’s tournament record of 21 points.
Coming into the tournament, the scouting read on Caufield was that he was a top five talent who might fall between No. 8-11 range because he was a smaller player.
However, anyone watching Caufield perform in Sweden has to wonder whether the Colorado Avalanche will draft him at No. 4.
Hughes should go No. 1 to New Jersey Devils, followed by Kaapo Kakko to the New York Rangers. Then it becomes less predictability. Vasil Podkolzin, Dylan Cozins and Kirby Dach all seem to be in the running to go No. 3 to the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks already have two smaller goal scorers and Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. Podkolzin, Cozins and Dach are all 6-2 or better.
That leaves the Avalanche to make the first tough call on Caufield who is the draft’s most natural goal scorer. His shot release is lightning quick and he protects the puck extremely well.
We hear all of the time that the NHL has changed. It’s a faster, more uptempo game. There’s room for the smaller, skilled player. We will see if general managers really believe that, based on how high Caufield goes in the draft.