NHL Prospect Profile: Bobby Brink

Bobby Brink of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers has quickly developed into a highly promising winger eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Although of smaller stature, Brink boasts a booming shot and innate playmaking abilities.

– Bobby Brink –

Sioux City Musketeers (USHL) | Right-Wing| 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Excelsior, Minnesota| Jul. 8th, 2001 | 5-foot-10, 165-pounds

The United States Hockey League has quickly become a steady producer of elite NHL prospects, as the likes of Andrei Svechnikov, Quinn Hughes, Casey Mittelstadt, and Eeli Tolvanen have all graduated from the circuit of late.

Next in line to make the jump to the NHL level is surely Bobby Brink — a diminutive yet devastating offensive player who has come to be defined by his purposeful stride and natural offensive instincts. Currently in the midst of his first USHL campaign with the Sioux City Musketeers, Brink has continued to prove that size is no longer a significant factor in elite hockey.


  • Vision and Creativity
  • Shot Release and Power
  • Hockey Sense and Intelligence

The most impressive facet of Brink’s game — and that which drives his overall production — is the youngster’s ability to interpret the ice and move the puck within it. Boasting eyes in the back of his head at times, Brink is an exceptional passer who can saucer the puck through traffic of find a teammate for a back-door tap in.

As a result of his tremendous passing abilities, opponents are forced to provide Brink with time and space — a mistake which often allows the native of Excelsior, Minnesota to turn and rip the puck on net. Boasting a quick and effective release, Brink can fire the puck on net in the blink of an eye and also features a one-timer which is downright lethal on the power play.

Related: NHL Draft Rankings

Essentially, Brink is an extremely well-rounded prospect who plays a creative yet responsible style of game. Capable of passing or shooting the puck, opponents are forced to respect Brink’s abilities and, in doing so, provide him with greater time to process his options. Not one to turnover the puck and rush into mistakes, Brink is a capable two-way force who will only be aided by greater personal strength in the years ahead.

Areas of Improvement:

  • Personal Strength
  • First-Step Explosiveness

Checking in at 5-foot-10 and 165-pounds, it goes without saying that Brink is not a physically intimidating player by any means. However, as mentioned above, Brink does not let his smaller stature affect his game — the youngster consistently stands as one of the most lethal players on the ice. However, in the years ahead, Brink would do well to add greater muscle to his frame — especially so to his lower body in order to better protect the puck.

Related: NHL Draft Prospect Profiles

Tied hand in hand with Brink’s personal strength is his first step acceleration. Although he is a more than capable skater, greater strength would allow Brink to reach top speed in fewer strides — an ability which would afford him with an extra step above his competition.


Outside of these two particular areas, Brink does not need to improve his game in a drastic fashion. As a complete two-way player whose play only continued to strengthen throughout the 2018-19 campaign, Brink should have little issue adapting to the NCAA-level, where he is committed to play for the University of Denver in two season’s time.

Future Potential:

Come the 2019 NHL Draft, don’t expect to hear Brink’s name called outside of the first round.

Although the needs of each and every NHL franchise will alter where Brink is ultimately selected, the youngster has proven himself as a consistent offensive producer and one far too valuable to let slip into the second round or beyond. And, although his size and strength remain a work in progress, Brink’s overall skill-set is far too lethal and promising to overlook.


NHL Prospect Profile: Spencer Knight

Spencer Knight of the U.S. NTDP’s U18 Team is a towering and highly athletic goaltender eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Incredibly intelligent, Knight could very well be this year’s top draft eligible netminder.

– Spencer Knight –

USA Hockey’s NTDP | Goaltender | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Stamford, Connecticut | Apr. 19th, 2001 | 6-foot-3, 200-pounds

The United States National Team Development Program’s U18 Team is one of the deepest and strongest in recent history.

Boasting upwards of seven potential first rounds picks in the 2019 NHL Draft and led by an elite centre in Jack Hughes, USA’s U18 Team is a force to be reckoned with which will surely contribute to the country’s 2019 World Junior Championship roster as well. However, perhaps no player is of greater importance to the success of the NTDP’s U18 Team in 2018-19 than goaltender Spencer Knight.

Of impressive size, athleticism, and intelligence, Knight could very well be the first goaltender selected come the 2019 NHL Draft, and in the first round to boot.


  • Athleticism
  • Positioning
  • Composure
  • Intelligence

Knight truly does bring a comprehensive and remarkably effective game to his crease on a nightly basis.

For Knight, the foundation of his game is his impressive athleticism, stellar positioning, and downright superior intelligence in-goal. A natural athlete who is as strong and agile as they come, Knight is a force in his net who can fight through traffic to see loose pucks as well as battle hard to control loose rebounds around his crease.

What’s more is that Knight is always in the right position to make his saves. Given his 6-foot-3 and almost 200-pound frame, Knight is an intimidating presence in the crease who naturally reduces shooting angles owing to his size. However, what separates Knight from his competition is his ability to maneuver post-to-post within his goal with immense speed before anchoring himself in seemingly perfect positions to face incoming shots — all of which he accomplishes with remarkable consistency.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is Knight’s on-ice intelligence. Already one of the strongest and best-positioned goaltenders available in the 2019 NHL Draft, Knight also happens to be one of the most intelligent. Capable of reading the play before it unravels and reacting before his opponents can blast the puck on-goal, Knight’s innate and unique ability to predict plays allows him to stand one step ahead of his attackers at all times.


  • Reaction Efficiency
  • Poise

Although he is an exceptional athlete and star-goaltender in the making, Knight would do well to better conserve his energy and refine his mobility within his the crease.

Somewhat uncontrolled at times and too explosive owing to his raw strength, Knight can at times over-react to particular plays — and especially those which force him to traverse his crease with speed and power. These un-refined movements not only dent Knight’s energy level but force him to overplay his position as well — a reality which can lead to tap in goals for his opposition.

Throughout the 2018-19 campaign, Knight would do well to improve his poise and composure in-goal. Much like Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, it would serve Knight extremely well to focus on playing a quiet yet tactile game in goal, and one which will allow him to better retain his positioning and utilize his significant size to his advantage.

Future Potential:

Ultimately, Knight could prove to be the most consistent and effective goaltender eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft.

Likely to be chosen in the first-round of the event, Knight has all the makings of a starting goaltender at the NHL-level and one who could come to be considered as elite if able to further refine his already impressive game. Committed to Boston College for the 2019-20 season, Knight’s ascension to the NCAA-level and his resulting play in the years ahead will speak volumes with regards to his ultimate potential in the NHL.

In short, Knight could very well be the best goaltender available within this year’s draft class. With great size, incredible athleticism, and the drive necessary to succeed on a nightly basis, Knight won’t last long come draft day.

NHL Prospect Profile: Trevor Zegras

Trevor Zegras is a skillful, two-way center who plays a responsible game at both ends of the ice. He chips in offensively as well and has excellent hockey sense. Zegras projects as a late first round pick.

– Trevor Zegras –

USA Hockey’s NTDP | Center | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Bedford, New York, USA | March 20, 2001 | 5-foot-11, 159-pounds

Trevor Zegras fell into the shadows of the NTDP’s superior centers, Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte, for the first half of the ’17-18 season. However, once those two were promoted to the U18 squad, Zegras took over as the team’s number one center and proved that he is more than capable to lead a team’s offence.

Zegras put up 20 goals and 59 points in 56 games as a member of the U17 squad last year, but perhaps most impressively was his ability to lock down the defensive side of the game as well. Zegras became trusted to play in all situations and quickly became the team’s leader on and off the ice for the second half.


  • Hockey Sense
  • Playmaking
  • Two-Way Game

Trevor Zegras plays a smart, two-way game. He reads the ice incredibly well and never lacks the necessary effort in the defensive zone to recapture possession of the puck, or at the very least, to eliminate passing and shooting lanes. More of a playmaker than a shooter, Zegras utilizes his vision to find teammates through minuscule seams.

With that said, he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and can certainly beat goaltenders on shots through traffic or in tight. What coaches will love most about Zegras though is his consistent two-way play. He never gives up on the puck and backchecks deep into the defensive zone to help out his defencemen. He’s also become reliable in the faceoff circle, especially on the penalty kill.


  • Aggression and Physicality

One area where Zegras may be lacking is with his current size. At just 159-pounds, Zegras doesn’t yet have the strength to play at upper levels. As a two-way center, it will be crucial for him to add some muscle in order to stand up against larger and stronger opponents in puck battles as well as in boxing opponents out.

Zegras also tends to shy away from the physical play and tends to lose out on part of his offensive potential as a result. If he is able to work on his strength and aggression on the puck, Zegras would be capable of being a top-flight prospect for the upcoming draft, and in the conversation with the top centermen.

Future Potential:

Trevor Zegras projects to be a second-line center at the NHL level. He possesses an elite level of hockey sense and is a tremendous playmaker. He can thread passes through passes and reads the ice well in order to find passing lanes that no one else sees. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Zegras forecasts as a late first round pick for the 2019 NHL Draft.

Is Jack Hughes the Next Patrick Kane?

As the projected first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, player comparisons are nothing new for Jack Hughes. However, the similarities between he and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks are far too striking to ignore.

Jack Hughes of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program is an elite if not generational talent who stands poised to dominate the NHL for years to come.

Founded upon exceptional skating abilities, Hughes moves the puck incredibly well and is a threat every single time he steps onto the ice. As unpredictable as he is lethal, Hughes keeps his opponents on their heels owing to his ability to both pass and shoot the puck with absolute authority.

Jack Hughes, NTDP
Jack Hughes is the latest American phenom produced by USA Hockey’s NTDP. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Capable of playing on his team’s power play and penalty kill, Hughes is a versatile all-around threat who can create potent offensive plays in the blink-of-an-eye. Able to steal the puck from opposing players with ease before meandering his way through defences, Hughes’ quick and agile feet and sky-high hockey I.Q. allows him to dominate each and every game in a seemingly stress-free manner.

Hughes’ combination and execution of these abilities at such a young age can be best defined as nothing other than exceptional.

So, it should come as no surprise to learn that Hughes has earned a bevy of player comparisons throughout his career to date, with none more accurate than the similarities between he and current Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.

Jack Hughes: The Next Patrick Kane?

When it comes to Hughes and Kane, the likeness between the two is incredibly striking.

Like Hughes, Kane is a product of the USA’s NTDP, and honed his game while skating with the program during the 2005-06 campaign. Although the season Kane spent with the team preceded his first year of NHL-draft eligibility, the native of Buffalo, New York still managed to record 52 goals and 102 points in his 58 games played for the program.

How did Kane do it?

Well, like Hughes, Kane excelled largely as a result of his impeccable skating abilities and elite-level hockey I.Q. Confident and poised while in possession of the puck and rarely forced into mistakes or turnovers, Kane’s composure with the puck at an early age allowed him to drive his team’s offensive game with relative ease.

Jack Hughes
Like Kane, Hughes is a puck-hound who creates with consistency. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

In addition to the calm displayed by both players, it is both Hughes’ and Kane’s crafty hands, stick-handling abilities, and creativity with the puck that allows the two to mirror one another.

Like Kane, Hughes is a magician with the puck who seemingly keeps it tied to a string. Able to pick the puck out of scrums and capable of controlling possession through the sticks and legs of opposing defenders, Hughes’ ability to command the puck in traffic while generating high-quality scoring chances is a pleasure to behold.

Having created both time and space for themselves through tactile positioning and poise, both Hughes and Kane can then wire the puck on goal or pass it off to a teammate laying in wait.

Jack Hughes
Hughes’ intelligence allows him to elude and dismantle opposing defences. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Perhaps the only similarity the two star players share — and one which is often viewed as a weakness — is the pair’s lack of substantial size. Standing 5-foot-10 and 175-pounds, Kane is never the biggest player on the ice, and neither is Hughes who stands a very similar 5-foot-10 and 165-pounds in his own right.

However, despite this perceived deficiency shared both players, each has learned to adapt to the challenges placed upon them by today’s game. Given their elusive nature and on-ice intelligence, both Hughes and Kane have the generated the proven ability to avoid players of an intimidating stature while still playing an incredibly valuable role for their respective teams.

Hughes and the 2019 NHL Draft

When the 2019 NHL Draft takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia on June 21-22nd, expect the similarities between Hughes and Kane to continue.

In 2007 — following a jaw-dropping 62 goals and 145 points in 58 games played for the London Knights of the OHL — Kane heard his name called by the Blackhawks with the first overall selection in the NHL Draft. Given his immense skill-set and proven production, Chicago’s selection of Kane was a mere formality.

And, when Hughes heads to Vancouver for the 2019 NHL Draft, expect the case to be eerily similar.

Jack Hughes
At the 2019 NHL Draft, Hughes will likely become just the second American chosen first-overall in the past decade. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Considering his incredible play for USA Hockey’s NTDP to date, Hughes’ first overall selection in the coming NHL Draft is virtually all but set. Although an excellent group of other prospects stand poised to challenge the native of Orlando, Florida for the distinction, Hughes’ play to date — and his similarities to Kane — make the youngster’s services far to valuable to pass up.

So, although the 2018-19 season remains in its infancy, expect the NHL to welcome yet another generational talent to its ranks in the immediate future.

And, while Hughes is clearly similar in playing style to Kane, who’s to say that the top-prospect won’t eclipse his fellow American at the NHL-level and — one day — challenge Connor McDavid for the scoring title?

NHL Prospect Profile: Cam York

Cam York is a reliable, two-way defenceman who can be trusted to play in all situations. As showcased by two strong international performances, York is one of the top defenders for the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Cam York –

USA Hockey’s NTDP | Left Defence | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Anaheim Hills, California, USA | January 5, 2001 | 5-foot-11, 165-pounds

Cam York is a mobile, smooth skating defenceman who can make a difference at both ends of the ice. A member of USA Hockey’s NTDP, York added eight goals and 38 points in 59 games in ’17-18, split between the U17 and U18 teams. He also earned considerable international experience at both the IIHF U17 and U18 Championships.

York’s success stems from an impressive mind which can foresee developing situations as they occur on the ice. This ability allows York to remain calm and poised under pressure. He is exemplary in pivoting and skating his way into safe spaces which create time and space for both himself and his teammates. York is committed to Boston College for the 2019-20 season.


  • Hockey Sense
  • Skating
  • Transition Game

York understands how to provide benefits for his team at all areas of the rink. He is a quick thinker and an excellent decision-maker, both away from the puck with his positioning, as well as with the puck. He is a smooth skater who has the confidence to rush the puck when it is safe to do so, or to make a two-line, tape-to-tape pass.

Cam York’s combination of skating and smarts make him a valuable two-way defenceman who can chip in offensively, especially on the power play. Photo Credit – Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP.

York’s transition game may indeed be his greatest strength, as he utilizes his decision-making prowess along with his skating ability to make a smart play each time, whether that be a chip out off the glass, or to rush the puck through the neutral zone himself. York has potential offensive upside thanks to his passing capabilities and his capacity to set-up and organize a power play.


  • Size and Strength

York is clearly a relatively small defenceman, but he does have room to fill out his 5-foot-11 frame. At this time, he is sometime unable to engage in the physical side of the game. He may lose a board battle or fail to box out an opposing winger, and will very rarely throw a check that separates player from puck.

While York’s mind can often make up for what he lacks in size, this will remain a topic of concern amongst NHL scouts. Whether or not he is able to line up against bigger and stronger NHL opponents remains to be seen, but for now, York could help himself dramatically by putting a few extra hours in the weight room.

Future Potential:

Cam York currently projects to be a top-four defenceman at the NHL level. He is an all-around, mobile defender who reads the game exceptionally well and can skate his way out of trouble with ease. He also has potential offensive upside, most notably from his ability to quarterback his team’s power play. Heading into the ’18-19 season, York appears to be a potential first round pick for the 2019 NHL Draft, likely in the latter stages of the round.

NHL Prospect Profile: Cole Caufield

Cole Caufield is the little engine who could, and that engine never wears down. Caufield potted 54 goals in 59 goals for the NTDP in ’17-18, and should be a unanimous top-20 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Cole Caufield –

USA Hockey’s NTDP | Right Wing/Center | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Mosinee, Wisconsin, USA | January 2, 2001 | 5-foot-6, 154-pounds

Yes, Cole Caufield stands at just 5-foot-6, but he plays the game without any fear and rarely ever lets his size be a disadvantage to his exemplary talents. The Wisconsin native played a large portion of the 2017-18 season alongside Jack Hughes and Matthew Boldy, en route to scoring 54 goals in just 59 games between the U17 and U18 teams. That mark sits just one goal shy of the record set by Auston Matthews in 2014-15.

Caufield sports a natural goal-scoring instinct, incapsulating a wicked release, creative hands, and the knack to be in the right place at the right time. He doesn’t shy away from the physical game despite his size, even throwing a couple of notable hits himself. Caufield plays each shift with a determination to help his team win, and often does so by filling the back of the net.


  • Shot
  • Competitiveness
  • Puck Skills

Cole Caufield greatest strength is undoubtedly his ability to pinch the twine. He boasts an electric release and pin-point accuracy, allowing him to beat goaltenders one-on-one with general ease. He also has the vision to read where the soft spots on the ice are going to be and the ability to quietly slip in behind defencemen to find himself time and space.

Cole Caufield has adapted some elite level celebrations as well, a result of finding the back of the net 54 times last season. Photo Credit – Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP.

Caufield plays each shift like it’s his last, showcasing a passion and effort level that is second-to-none, often broadcasted through his exuberant celebrations. He has very quick and creative hands which allow him to make defenders and goalies alike look silly. Caufield is simply an elite goal-scorer who can turn a game on its head with a flick of his wrists.


  • Defensive Awareness

Away from the flashy offensive abilities, Caufield has room to improve in the defensive zone. He sometimes gets lost or chases the puck a little too far in his own zone, and can be caught visibly thinking about transitioning to offence before his team has secured possession of the puck.

Spending the majority of his time as a winger, this aspect has less of an impact than it would if he played center. With that said, it remains an area in which Caufield could improve his all-around, 200-foot game in order to convince NHL scouts to have full confidence in his talents at both ends of the rink.

Future Potential:

Cole Caufield projects to be a top-six winger at the NHL level. He is an elite goal-scorer who has the potential to put up 40 goals in his prime. Caufield has an engine that never stops and a passion for the game that shines bright every shift. Caufield plays a very comparable game to Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Caufield should be a Top-20 pick for the 2019 NHL Draft, so long as GMs don’t make the mistake of passing him over for his size.

NHL Prospect Profile: Matthew Boldy

Matthew Boldy quietly led the NTDP U17 team in scoring in ’17-18 with an intriguing combination of scoring prowess, playmaking abilities, and reliable two-way play. He currently projects as a 1st round pick for the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Matthew Boldy –

USA Hockey’s NTDP | Left Wing | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Millis, Massachusetts , USA | April 5, 2001 | 6-foot, 174-pounds

Matthew Boldy quietly had a very impressive season for the NTDP in 2016-17, playing to a point-per-game clip in the USHL as well as adding 29 goals and 76 points in 61 games with the U17 team. He spent plenty of time playing alongside Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield, an indicator of his high-end offensive abilities.

Aside from the offensive totals, Boldy is also a very responsible two-way winger. He makes an noticeable effort to back-check in order to reduce odd-man rushes against and battles hard in his own end to regain puck possession. Boldy has a solid sense of the game and can make strong passes to set up teammates for scoring chances. He had a strong showing at the IIHF U17 Championships as well, registering three goals and nine points in six games.


  • Scoring Ability
  • Skating
  • Two-Way Game

Matthew Boldy is an intriguing prospect whose 2018-19 season will strongly dictate his draft rankings. As a result of lining up beside Hughes and Caufield, some are doubtful of his numbers and individual abilities. However, Boldy earned his spot of NTDP’s top line with a combination of imperative traits. He is a terrific skater who is agile with the puck and has above-average top speed.

Boldy has strong vision of the ice and can read plays to open himself up in quiet areas. He’s also a highly competitive player who isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas to generate offence. Boldy showcased a strong release with good accuracy and has some untapped goal-scoring upside. He is also a reliable, 200-foot winger who treats offence and defence equally. A good competitor with strong hockey sense, Boldy could be an underrated prospect for 2019.


  • Puck Skills

If Boldy is hoping to become a more dynamic and electrifying forward in ’18-19, he should focus on improving his puck skills. Boldy has good hands, but it is a trait that he fails to set himself apart with. He could certainly benefit from some extra creativity and abilities to maneuver through opponents in tight spaces.

A Boston College commit for 2019-20, Boldy must improve upon both the power of his shot and his capabilities to undress defencemen if he wants to prove that he has first-line potential at the NHL level.

Future Potential:

Matthew Boldy currently projects as a top-six winger at the NHL level. He plays an effective two-way style and has great offensive instincts. He is a smooth skater who goes to the right spots on the ice and has promising playmaking potential we well. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Boldy looks like a first round pick for the 2019 NHL Draft, perhaps in the 20-25th overall range.

NHL Prospect Profile: Arthur Kaliyev

Arthur Kaliyev led all U17 OHL players with 31 goals and 48 points in ’17-18. As a result, he projects to be a top-15 selection at the 2019 NHL Draft, thanks to his pin-point accurate snap shot and creative puck skills.

– Arthur Kaliyev –

Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) | Left Wing | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Staten Island, New York, USA | June 26, 2001 | 6-foot-2, 190-pounds

Arthur Kailyev is a potent goal-scorer with a quick and powerful snap shot. He fit seamlessly into the OHL during his rookie campaign, playing like a four-year vet. His 31 goals and 48 points both led all U17 players in the OHL last year, as Kaliyev became the first 16-year-old to break the 30-goal plateau since Alex Galchenyuk did it in 2010-11 with te Sarnia Sting.

Kaliyev’s game is fine-tuned to the offensive aspects. Aside from his gifted shooting abilities, he boasts quick and creative hands, with the instincts to beat defenders one-on-one. Further, he utilizes his large frame to become a net-front nuisance who is difficult to box out. If Kaliyev can add some more muscle, he could become t\he next gifted power forward.


  • Shot
  • Puck Skills
  • Strength

Arthur Kaliyev is an offence-first winger, and with good reason. His shot is years above his age, with a brisk and authoritative release, Kaliyev can get a high-danger shot off in tight quarters. His snap shot is accurate and deceptive enough to beat goaltenders straight up. Kaliyev is also endowed with soft hands, which allow him to corral the puck through traffic with ease.

Arthur Kaliyev quickly became accustomed to celebrating goals in the OHL en route to a 31-goal rookie campaign, a number which led all U17 player. Photo Credit – Brandon Taylor.

Further to his offensive capabilities, Kaliyev has the size and strength to be a menace in front of the net. He has surprising lower-body strength, which he utilizes in board battles, cycles, and to protect the puck. As Kaliyev continues to grow and mature, this may become more of a benefit over his opponents as he develops towards a potential scoring power forward role.


  • Skating

On the other hand, Kaliyev remains an average skater without game-breaking speed. He accelerates well, but certainly has room to grow as far as agility and top speeds go. While these attributes obviously didn’t hold back his ability to find the twine, an improvement would do wonders for his all-around game.

As we know, an upside skating ability has become an imperative facet of today’s NHL. As such this aspect of Kaliyev’s game must be a focus of his training in order to have a productive future at the professional ranks. Time and time again, we’ve seen potential superstars fall short because of lacklustre skating. Here’s hoping that won’t be the case for Kaliyev.

Future Potential:

Arthur Kaliyev looks to be a future top-six winger at the NHL level. While his defensive game and skating could still use some work, Kaliyev possesses a natural scoring ability and has the potential to be a dangerous power forward if he fills out his frame. Heading into the ’18-19 season, Kaliyev projects to be a Top-15 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Cole Caufield: The American Sniper

Cole Caufield of the U.S. National Team Development Program is a lethal sniper who scored 54 goals last season. Although diminutive, the 2019 NHL Draft prospect packs quite the punch.

Cole Caufield is a goal-scoring machine, and arguably the most lethal sniper eligible for selection in the 2019 NHL Draft.

As a star member of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in 2017-18, Caufield netted a jaw-dropping 54 goals in 59 games played — a total which stood high above that of 2019 top prospect Jack Hughes’. In fact, Caufield’s 54-goal total was the highest mark achieved by a NTDP player since Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews set the current record of 55 in 2014-15.

The major difference between Caufield and Matthews, however?


Smashing Stereotypes

When Matthews blasted home 55 goals as a member of the NTDP, the native of San Ramon, California and eventual first overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft already stood well above 6-feet and weighed in close to 200-pounds.

This distinct physical advantage allowed Matthews to dominate his competition in North America at a young age as well as play a year of professional hockey in Switzerland before ascending to the NHL-level. Described as boasting the perfect combination of size, speed, and skill, the Leafs’ selection of Matthews first overall truly came as little surprise.

However, in the case of Caufield, the native of Mosinee, Winsconsin’s value ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft is anything but certain. In fact, the young sniper’s stock has been impeded dramatically by a factor completely out of his control: size.

Cole Caufield
Caufield is an elite sniper, as evidenced by his 54-goal season as a member of the NTDP in 2017-18. (Photo Credit: Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP)

Standing 5-foot-6 and tipping the scales at 160-pounds, Caufield is a diminutive player who is regularly the smallest player on the ice. As a result, Caufield has long been forced to analyze, adapt, and overcome the unique challenges placed upon him by his opponents of considerably greater size and strength.

Fortunately, Caufield has been able to accomplish exactly such with startling regularity, as the youngster has come to dominate his opposition on a nightly basis owing to his soft hands, excellent shot, innate hockey sense, and tireless determination to overcome any obstacle in his path to the NHL.

Caufield’s Road to the Show

Although Caufield’s road to the show will undoubtedly be a long and winding one, it is a path which will surely prove prosperous.

Heading into the 2018-19 season, a number of early 2019 NHL Draft Rankings have already failed to afford Caufield the respect which his on-ice exploits have come to deserve. Projected to be selected late in the first round, Caufield’s inaccurate outlook is as inaccurate as it is prejudiced.

Yes, he is of a smaller stature, but so too was former Erie Otters star and current Chicago Blackhawks sniper Alex DeBrincat. Also projected to be selected late in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, DeBrincat wound up falling to 39th overall despite recording 51 goals and 101 points as a rookie in the campaign preceding his selection.

The common trait which both Caufield and DeBrincat share? A lack of size — DeBrincat stands just 5-foot-7 and 170-pounds, yet still scored 28 goals for the Blackhawks in his rookie season.

So, if there is one reality which NHL franchises and their respective General Managers must learn from cases such as DeBrincat — as well as Brayden Point and Johnny Gaudreau — it is that highly skilled players of smaller stature are becoming increasingly effective in the NHL due to their ability to adapt to more sizeable competition.

And, such must exactly be the case when Caufield heads to Vancouver for the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia next June. If passed over and not selected until late in the first-round or early into the second, the NHL franchise which selects Caufield will have stolen a premier goal-scorer and one capable supplementing his team’s offence at the NHL-level.

In hindsight, should the likes of DeBrincat, Point, and Gaudreau have been selected in the first-round of their respective NHL Draft’s?


In 2019, let’s hope that NHL franchises finally cast aside their misconceptions surrounding size. Caufield is a legitimate first-round talent and elite sniper, and deserves to be recognized as such.

NHL Prospect Profile: Alex Turcotte

Alex Turcotte has often fallen into the shadows of Jack Hughes, but make no mistake, Turcotte is a smart, playmaking center who can be trusted in the defensive zone as well. There aren’t many flaws to this prospect’s game.

– Alex Turcotte –

USA Hockey’s NTDP | Center | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Walled Lake, Michigan, USA | February 26, 2001 | 5-foot-11, 194-pounds

Alex Turcotte has been able to fly under the radar of the 2019 NHL Draft as a result of being slotted behind Jack Hughes as the team’s second center. However, scouts took notice of Turcotte during the 2017-18 season, where he tallied eight goals and 32 points in 31 games with the U17 squad in USHL action.

Turcotte is a phenomenal skater who can burn opponents at both ends of the ice. He is a responsible center who is trusted by his coaches in all situations. A pass-first player, Turcotte is an elite playmaker who can create time and space for his teammates or set the up for tap-in goals.


  • Hockey Sense
  • Skating
  • Playmaking

Alex Turcotte is the ideal player to fit the new era of NHL style; skating, smarts, and vision. He sees the ice as well as anyone and can hold on or cycle the puck with ease to create time for his teammates. Turcotte can dictate the pace of the game through his ability to read developing plays and the acceleration and agility to turn on the jets instantaneously.

Alex Turcotte is regarded as a two-way center, but his dynamic playmaking abilities can often go underrated. Photo Credit – Rena Laverty and USA Hockey’s NTDP

The aforementioned skills allow Turcotte to be an excellent playmaker. He can find passing lanes through traffic with ease or skate his way into an area that creates passing options for himself. Not to mention, his defensive awareness is spectacular. Turcotte’s smarts extend into his own end to break up passes and force turnovers regularly.


  • Shot

Alex Turcotte is a playmaker by heart for a reason. His shot won’t blow goaltenders away with its power, nor catch them off-guard with a quick release. It’s likely as a result of this fact that Turcotte has had to prioritize his role as an exemplary passer.

In fact, Turcotte’s shot may be the only aspect of his game that precludes him from being a top-five or even top-three pick at the 2019 NHL Draft. There are so many gifted goal scorers in the upcoming draft class that teams may opt for scoring touch over playmaking talent. With that said, if Turcotte can improve upon his goal totals in 2018-19, we could see his draft stock skyrocket quickly.

Future Potential:

Alex Turcotte forecasts as a top-six center at the NHL level. His offensive abilities can often go underrated as a result of his impressive two-way play, but Turcotte has all the skills to be a point-producer at the next level. Comparables include Ryan Johansen and Paul Stastny. Turcotte projects to be a Top-10 pick at the 2019 NHL Draft entering his U18 campaign.