The Montreal Canadiens have updated the status of Cole Caufield, announcing Tuesday that the forward is going to play another season at the University of Wisconsin.
“This additional year in the NCAA will benefit Cole and will allow him to continue developing his skills within the Badgers’ environment,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “Cole is an important part of the Montreal Canadiens’ future and we will continue to follow his development with interest.”
Caufield, SN’s 31st-ranked NHL prospect, was rumored to be following Badgers teammates Alex Turcotte and K’Andre Miller to the NHL after both agreed to entry-level contracts with the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, respectively.
In his first season at Wisconsin, Caufield led the team with 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 36 games and became the first player in school history to win a league scoring title. He notched 24 points in 24 Big Ten games this season.
Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato felt the Canadiens made the right decision by not signing Caufield at this point.
“When they’re not ready, they’re better off staying to give themselves a better chance of when they get there, they can stay there,” Granato told the Wisconsin State Journal. “Working through the hurdles, working through some of the things that we worked through this year, individually and as a team, are experiences and battles that you have to have to get ready for an NHL season.”
After representing the United States at the 2020 World Junior Championship, Caufield will look to improve his play without the puck before making the leap to the NHL.
With Caufield returning to school for another season, Granato said he hopes the former first-round pick follows the Cale Makar model. The defenseman spent two seasons at UMass before signing with the Colorado Avalanche.
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