The depth of talent on the Program squad this year has led to some of the players getting lost in the mix, and ultimately works to the detriment of some players, who appear weaker relative to the dominance of some of the elite talent of that team.
Judd Caufield is a player that has the size and frame to be an effective bottom-six forward, but the question is if he has the skills to be effective; there are a lot of aspects of his game that leave you wanting more.
With that being said, he is a player that may be worth a flyer in the later rounds of the draft because, with a little patience, he may fill that bottom six role. That’s not necessarily an ideal strategy on the draft floor, but Caulfield has enough there to warrant that consideration.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / March 19, 2001
- Birthplace: Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA
- Frame: 6-foot-3 / 207 lbs
- Position: Left Wing/Right Wing
- Handedness: Righ
- Draft Year Team: U.S. National Team Development Program
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
(Editor’s note on the stats and charts in this article: the U.S. National Team Development Program is a unique program in that its roster plays in several different leagues over the course of the season. Typically, we’ve just used their stats against USHL competition. However, this year their NCAA stats have also been incorporated in some circumstances.
Games played, goals, assists, points and shot data include all U.S. NTDP games. Any data derived from game sheets (involvement percentage, eP60, SEAL data, and on-ice data), as well as any charts that reference “USDP” as the league refer to U.S. NTDP games against both USHL and NCAA competition. pGPS data is based off of USHL games alone.)
Caulfield is a big and hulking winger that thrives along the boards and when the physicality ramps up. He uses his frame to protect the puck extremely well along the wall, driving his line and dictating where he wants the puck to go. Caulfield can also be a handful in front of the net.
The issue is that he isn’t the most skilled player, instead relying on getting pucks in deep and working hard along the boards. You won’t ever see him dangle a defenceman; he instead prefers to chip and chase. With that being said, he is a reasonably decent passer that can move the puck around well when space is afforded to him.
His skating leaves a little bit to be desired as he appears to be heavy on his feet. He lacks agility or quickness to get where he needs to go before an opponent takes away his options. Given his style, this isn’t the end of the world as it allows him to physically engage opponents, but it does raise the question of how effective he can be.
Although the above points paint a somewhat pessimistic view of his game, there is little doubt about his workman-like effort while on the ice. The kid gets his feet moving, creates havoc, plays physical, and doesn’t give up much ice.
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) April 21, 2019
He is strong at the defensive side of the game, using his physical play to keep opponents on their heels. If there is a chance to do so, Caulfield will finish his checks and make the skilled players on the other team work for their space.
Caulfield is good at getting the puck out of the zone along the boards and does a good job of protecting the puck while opposing defencemen pinch on him. As you can expect, Caulfield is extremely effective on the penalty kill using all the previously mentioned aspects to his game to his benefit. An example of what I mean is this clip:
Late in the first period Finland gets a big power play, but Team USA was able to kill it off.
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) April 25, 2019
Overall, Caulfield is a raw player that has some flaws to his game, but there are flashes that make you think there might be more beneath the surface.
The Program was so deep this year that Caulfield was relegated to a bottom six role and his point totals reflect that. He wasn’t a dominant player in any sense but gave the team an element that was very effective.
Despite his role, he produced reasonably well with the ice-time that he was given.
Naturally he feasted a bit on the lesser lights in the USHL, but it’s still an encouraging sign to see that he was in the range of his teammates in terms of GF% and estimated 5-on-5 points per hour (eP60).
Through pGPS, we expected that Caulfield has about a 36% chance of becoming a full time NHL player, which borders on first round value. This isn’t to suggest that he is a first-round talent in any way – his projection is likely buoyed by a) his team’s extreme production, and b) decades of NHL teams overvaluing size – but it’s still a number that is worth noting.
It’s important to remember the context in a situation like this. If you are a team that is looking to go for high ceiling, then Caulfield isn’t someone that should be worth your consideration in any way. But if you are looking to extract some bottom six talent with players that use their size well, then Caulfield is a reasonably good bet to get there.
When watching him, you see flashes of a player that has skill under there but doesn’t quite put it together or lacks the confidence to do so. Instead, he relies on what he does well, which is using his frame to drive the puck in the direction he wants.
Generally, I believe you should swing for the fences in the later rounds and let the hulking players slip through but it won’t be shocking to hear Caulfield’s name called on draft day. He provides that element that teams desire and there aren’t egregious red flags to his game that override the positive intangibles he brings.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and USHL.com
Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
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