With the 39th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks selected Alex DeBrincat from the OHL’s Erie Otters. The question is how did a player like DeBrincat fall all the way to the 39th overall when he outperformed many others and had impressive numbers in the OHL?
Back during the time in which he spent playing in the OHL, many thought he was a product of his elite linemate Connor McDavid. He also played with Dylan Strome, now with the New York Rangers at MSG. Both of those two went first and third overall in the 2015 draft respectively. However, within the following year, the then 50 goal and 101 point scorer fell into the group of players who are now eligible for the possibility to be selected in the second round.
The reason I bring up DeBrincat is because there is a very similar, if not, identical player in this draft who goes by the name of Cole Caufield. Caufield is a product of the USNTDP of the USHL and plays along with many first round ranked prospects in this year’s upcoming NHL draft. Furthermore, he is also joined by sensation Jack Hughes who is projected to go first overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver.
According to the NHL Central Scouting board, Caufield is small at just 5’6.75″ and 155lbs but he seems to be producing at an excellent rate and has officially committed to play for Wisconsin in the NCAA for the 2019-2020 season. Caufield leads his team with 21 goals in 25 games while also scoring at 0.84 goals per game with a shooting percentage of 21% which is just remarkable given performance which has been rather impressive to this point.
Caufield possesses one of the better shots in this draft and like many others, I would consider him to be a solid sniper when on the ice. His shot is not only precise but sneaky as well while he also has a certain finesse to his play when looking at it from a generalized view. He does, however, look like a boy among men and it won’t necessarily get any better when and if he makes the NHL.
One thing with these smaller players is how they react to the rough play with opponents who appear to be both bigger as well as older. The NCAA will be not only a good test for him but a solid place as well for both his development and skills to continue. If you can’t beat players with your strength, then you’ll have to do so with your skating, his of which isn’t elite but is good enough for the time being. He also seems to fade into areas when he skates into the offensive zone and is actually a steady skater when you put it all together.
All this is just pure speculation at this time, but he does check a lot of what DeBrincat checked when at this age and he also plays with a similar talent in comparison to both Jack Hughes as well as McDavid. Further to that point, all three share a similar mindset as well as on-ice attributes and if I had to rank him, I’d say he’s definitely a top 15 player based off of his style and talent. I truly believe he’d be closer to the top 7-8 if his height hit the perimeters of at least six-feet tall as at the end of the day, he really is just that good.