Blackhawks

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Cole Caufield

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Cole Caufield

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Cole Caufield

Position: Right wing
Height: 5-foot-7
Weight: 162 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

"He just scores goals. I think the comparison to Alex [DeBrincat] is a natural. There are some similarities, but he stands on his own. He's as brave as anyone is on the ice and at the end of the game he's going to have as much impact as anyone."

Scouting report from TSN's Director of Scouting Craig Button:

"I think he's the best goal scorer in this draft. I've watched him do it against everybody and he does it better than anybody. It's easy to look at Alex DeBrincat, I compare Cole Caufield to elite goal scorers."

Caufield describes his own game:

"I think my playmaking does get a little bit overlooked at times just because of the stats and what not. I think I make plays and I make my teammates better and give them more time and space. I think I’m a smart player and I do think that does go overlooked, but there’s nothing wrong with being a goal scorer."

NHL player comparable: Alex DeBrincat

Fit for Blackhawks:

The DeBrincat comparisons are real, and not just because of the size. They’re both elite goal scorers with an underrated playmaking ability. Caufield is a player that probably wouldn’t have garnered this much attention at the top of the draft in years past, but because DeBrincat and others have paved the way, Caufield’s stock continues to rise as a potential perennial 30-plus goal scorer.

The difference between him and DeBrincat is that Caufield is going into the draft with high expectations. That wasn't the case for DeBrincat, who was drafted in the second round and never got the credit he really deserved. DeBrincat entered the NHL with a large chip on his shoulder to try proving the doubters wrong. Caufield will be trying to prove everyone right.

The primary question for the Blackhawks here is whether Caufield is worth passing on all those high-end centers and a potential No. 1 defenseman for. If you consider drafting a winger at No. 3, they must be so good that they change your life. Caufield might. But weighing those other factors and the importance of building up the middle and from the back end, the Blackhawks might be better off in the long term taking the best available center or defenseman — not because of need, but because of value.

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Blackhawks able to hold group workouts starting Monday when NHL's Phase 2 begins

Blackhawks able to hold group workouts starting Monday when NHL's Phase 2 begins

On Thursday, the NHL announced that it will move to Phase 2 of its Return To Play Plan effective on Monday, June 8.

Teams like the Blackhawks will be allowed to open their practice facilities for off-ice and on-ice "individualized training activities". A maximum amount of six players, plus limited team staff, are permitted to be scheduled for workouts on a voluntary basis.

Per the NHL "participation (education, diagnostic testing, scheduling for medicals, etc.), can begin immediately." 

It was recently reported that team training camps to lead up to the 24-team postseason format wouldn't begin ahead of July 10. Under the format, the Blackhawks are set to take on the Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in round.

The NHL paused on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Breaking down Blackhawks' path to Stanley Cup in 24-team Return to Play format

Breaking down Blackhawks' path to Stanley Cup in 24-team Return to Play format

The NHL and NHL Players' Association officially ironed out the final details of its 24-team Return to Play format, which is another positive step in the right direction as both sides look to reach an overall agreement on resuming play.

Here's a brief rundown of the most notable items from Thursday's announcement:

— The qualifying round will be composed of a best-of-5 series while the four other rounds will be best-of-7. 

— The top four teams from each conference will play each other in a round-robin format to determine the No. 1-4 seeds. Regular season points percentage will serve as the tiebreaker.

— Instead of the traditional bracketed format in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the NHL will reseed after each round, with the highest remaining seed in each conference facing the lowest remaining seed, etc.

— In the qualifying round and first and second rounds, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team. In the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, the team with the higher regular season points percentage will be considered the home team.

The details shouldn't come as much of a surprise. It was important to the players to maintain the integrity of the playoffs while making sure the teams that had a strong regular season were rewarded with a favorable path. For the Blackhawks, the challenge got a little more difficult but that was to be expected.

This is what the Western Conference playoff picture looks like:

1. St. Louis Blues 
2. Colorado Avalanche
3. Vegas Golden Knights
4. Dallas Stars

5. Edmonton Oilers vs. 12. Chicago Blackhawks
6. Nashville Predators vs. 11. Arizona Coyotes
7. Vancouver Canucks vs. 10. Minnesota Wild
8. Calgary Flames vs. 9. Winnipeg Jets

Should they upset the Oilers in the qualifying round, the Blackhawks would face the highest seed of the round-robin winner in the first round of the playoffs. Right now, that's the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues, who swept the Blackhawks in a regular-season series for the first time in their 53-year history. The Blackhawks went 0-4-0 and were outscored by the Blues 16-8 this season.

Here's how the Blackhawks fared against the three other top seeds in the West:

— 1-3-0 vs. Colorado with a minus-8 goal differential (19 goals for, 11 goals against)
— 1-1-1 vs. Vegas with a minus-2 goal differential (nine goals for, seven goals against)
— 1-1-1 vs. Dallas with a plus-2 goal differential (five goals for, three goals against)

If the Blackhawks advance past the first round, their path will only get tougher. As the last seed in their respective conference, they will draw the highest seed as each round progresses under the re-seeding format.

But nobody should be disappointed about that. The Blackhawks have been given new life and Chicago will take it.

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