Montreal Canadiens top prospect Cole Caufield will not be leaving school just yet.
The Habs announced that Caufield, the team and the University of Wisconsin have decided that he’ll return to school for his sophomore season.
The 19-year-old was the 15th overall pick in 2019 NHL Draft. Despite being listed at 5-foot-7, 162 pounds, Caufield was taken in the first round because he has an incredible ability to put the puck in the net.
In his first season with the Badgers, Caufield had 19 goals and 36 points in 36 games. He was the only player on the roster to score more than 15 goals and he was also the only one to surpass the 30-point mark.
Still, the Canadiens organization felt it was best for him to further dominate in the NCAA.
“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,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a release.
Bergevin had previously mentioned that the right winger’s play without the puck had to improve before he made the leap to the NHL.
Caufield was one of three first-round draft picks on the Badgers’ roster last year. Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings) and K’Andre Miller (New York Rangers) were also on the team, but both have signed entry-level contracts with their respective clubs.
“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,” Badgers head coach Tony Granato said, per Madison.com. “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.”
This also means that the young forward will likely get another crack at representing Team USA at the World Junior Hockey Championship. The 2019-20 tournament didn’t go too well for him, as he picked up a goal and an assist in five tournament games. The United States were bounced in the Quarter-Final against Finland (they lost 1-0).