Ah the every lasting debate about the importance of size to play in the NHL. It was like that 50 years ago and it hasn’t changed much to this date. There are more smaller players than ever though but one has to wonder about the true reason behind it. Regardless, teams will do what their General Manager at the time likes. If he wants size, he will get a bigger team. If he wants speed, chances are his team will have smaller players. And fans? Well, they have their opinion and in most cases, they’re not going to change their mind either way. That being said, being small does not necessarily mean that you can’t have a successful hockey career… particularly not in today’s NHL, desperate for talent.
When, at the 2019 NHL Draft, Cole Caufield kept dropping to the point of being available at number 15 overall, the Montreal Canadiens’ pick, Trevor Timmins and his team of scouts could not let that slide any further. Caufield was expected to easily be selected in the top-10 in spite of his size.
Caufield is generously listed at 5’7″ and 165 lbs on the University of Wisconsin Badgers’ website. Let’s face it… had he been six-feet tall or more, he would not have been available for the Habs at number 15. But in spite of his size, he is a natural goals’ scorer who has been breaking notorious NHLers’ records in the NCAA.
Not alone in the NHL
Yes, the NHL is a big boys’ club for the most part. Teams prefer players with size, although some smaller players are having very good success in the highest caliber hockey league in the world. Here are a just a few of the players standing at 5-foot 9-inches or less, all currently in the NHL. There are more, check it out for yourself.
|Rocco Grimaldi||Alex Debrincat||Kailer Yamamoto|
|Mats Zuccarelo||Tyler Johnson||Brad Marchand|
|Johnny Gaudreau||Brendan Gallagher||Paul Byron|
|Victor Mete||Cam Atkinson||Conor Sheary|
|Yanni Gourde||Tyler Ennis||Nikita Gusev|
|Viktor Arvidsson||Torey Krug||Jonathan Marchessault|
With the NHL’s over-expansion, teams are desperately looking for guys who can skate in this league. The fact is that if you’re talented and have a little bit of drive and will to compete, you’ll be playing in the NHL regardless of your size. The truth is that bigger players will always be sought more. They are more built for the grind of a long NHL season and the exhausting type of hockey played in the playoffs. If you have Josh Anderson going against Caufield, the big guy is more likely to have a positive impact in the long run.
In his most recent press conference, Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin hinted that Caufield will be turning pro after his season in Wisconsin later this year. He also mentioned Northeastern University Huskies’ standout defenseman Jordan Harris, who will likely do the same.
The main reason why Bergevin is saying that it’s too early to tell the plan is likely due to the uncertainty of the AHL. Habs’ fans (and some members of the media) are quick at pencilling prospects in a NHL line-up having an impact. But at his size, it is my humble opinion that he will be needing a couple of years with the Laval Rocket to mature both physically and psychologically before making the jump to the next level. So if Laval is still playing when the NCAA season is over, I’m expecting Caufield to suit-up for Joel Bouchard at the end of the season. If the AHL cancels its activities, he could come to Montreal to practice with the team, perhaps on the Taxi Squad. Either way, let’s be patient with the kid, folks. Let’s not pull a Drouin on him.
Go vote for Cole Caufield for the Hobey Baker Award! You have until March 8th and can vote every day. Leafs’ fans are voting for a guy with 17 points in 16 games just so Caufield doesn’t win. Pathetic, I know. Go Habs Go!