Is Montreal next for Cole Caufield?
If the Montreal Canadiens had their way, they would have sent a private jet to Bridgeport to pick up Cole Caufield, just hours after his season ended.
Caufield’s season and likely college hockey career came to end on Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
As the top seed in the East Region, the Wisconsin Badgers were expected to compete for a national championship in what on paper looked like a top heavy tournament.
But games aren’t played on paper and on Friday Bemidji State pulled off the first upset of the tournament.
"It’s a tough feeling, it stings right now,” said Caufield. “It just happened and it’s all that’s on my mind right now, it’s not the best feeling right now.”
From start to finish the Beavers of Bemidji State were the better team. They took full advantage of a Badgers d-core that was as sloppy with the puck as the ice in Bridgeport was.
Once Wisconsin fell behind, Caufield elevated his game, doing everything he could to take the game over. He had 13 shots on goal, and two third period goals.
“He had no quit, he had a phenomenal year. He had as good of a year as I’ve seen a college player have. Right to the last second he was scratching and clawing and doing everything he could to get us back into the game,” said Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato. “It says a lot about his character, says a lot about his development this year and says a lot about the player he is.”
In his freshman season a year ago, Caufield led the Big Ten in scoring, but the Badgers had a down year, finishing 14-20-2.
But this year was a different song and dance for the Badgers, of course, led by Caufield.
The soon-to-be Hobey Baker award winner led the nation in goals, (30) and points with 52 while leading the Badgers to a 20-10-1 record this season.
“I had a tough first year but I’m happy with the way we turned it around this year, we did a lot of good things. I’m proud of the guys in the room,” said Caufield.
“Obviously nowhere near where we wanted to finish. We created a lot of memories together and it was one of the closest teams—the closest team I’ve ever been on in my hockey career. I love every single one of these guys, it’s a tough feeling right now.”
With 49 goals and 87 points in 67 career NCAA games and a Hobey Baker likely under his belt, there’s not much more individually for Caufield to do.
So does that it’s time to sign his entry level contract and turn pro?
“I haven’t even thought about it yet, this obviously just happened, our season just ended,” said Caufield. “I can’t think about that stuff right now. Going to take a few days and figure it out from there.
It’s not going to come on Friday, and it might not come on Saturday, but Caufield is going to get a call from either his agent, or the Canadiens themselves sooner rather than later.
And with that call, the pressure is on.
“He’s going to get a call for sure from his agent, and from Montreal real soon. The Canadiens watched him play this year, their scouts all watched him play this year—they have a plan. I don’t know that plan, I assume that plan is to get him up there as fast as they can,” said Granato.
“I think the best thing for him to do right now is reflect on the year, kind of get away from it for a bit—talk to family and the people he needs to about making the next decision. But from what he’s done and how he’s played, he’s given himself a really good option, there’s no doubt about it.”