7:33 PM: The Canadiens have confirmed that Caufield will remain at Wisconsin. GM Marc Bergevin released the following statement:
This additional year in the NCAA will benefit Cole and will allow him to continue developing his skills within the Badgers’ environment. Cole is an important part of the Montreal Canadiens’ future and we will continue to follow his development with interest.
4:12 PM: Fans of the Montreal Canadiens haven’t had much to be happy about recently, but were holding out hope that perhaps top prospect Cole Caufield would soon sign his entry-level contract. Not so fast, according to Todd D. Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal, who reports that Caufield has told Badgers head coach Tony Granato that he is planning on returning for his sophomore season.
The 19-year old forward has watched teammates K’Andre Miller and Alex Turcotte sign their entry-level deals and turn pro in recent days, but will instead return for another chance at developing his game at the collegiate level.
Caufield, the 15th overall pick in 2019, is an incredibly gifted scorer that can put the puck in from anywhere in the offensive zone. His ability to find open space when his teammates have the puck or create it for himself with his strong acceleration and balance is almost unmatched among his age group, as seen by the record-breaking numbers he put up for the U.S. National Team Development Program.
At Wisconsin, even as a freshman he found quite a bit of success. He led the Badgers with 19 goals and 36 points in 36 games, both numbers that will be expected to climb even further next season. Even though he likely won’t be contributing to the Canadiens in 2020 (unless something changes his mind through the summer), there is still plenty to be excited about down the road.