It’s a new season across the board with expectations for many players and many teams. That includes a handful of Canadiens prospects playing for various American universities in the NCAA. Here is a preview for this upcoming season:
Big Ten Conference
Cole Caufield, RW – University of Wisconsin
After finishing his USNTDP career breaking several records and becoming one of the best American born players to lace it up for the program, Cole Caufield is set to start his NCAA career as a member of the Wisconsin Badgers. Coached by Tony Granato, who’s raved about Caufield’s abilities all summer, and joining star defenseman K’Andre Miller, fellow countryman Alex Turcotte and Canadiens prospect Jack Gorniak, Caufield will be surrounded by leadership and talent at Wisconsin. He’s also joining his older brother Brock who played for the team last year. He’s expected to have an immediate impact and push for a title as the team is seen as one of the best in the country. Caufield should play alongside Turcotte as they’ve created chemistry throughout the pre-season. My prediction is that Caufield will play his first and only season in the NCAA and then turn pro leaving a big impact on the program.
Jack Gorniak, LW/RW – University of Wisconsin
Entering his second season as a member of the Badgers, Gorniak is progressing well and is looking to have a better production as he only scored 4 goals adding 11 assists for only 15 points in 37 games. He is older at 20 years old and should be one of the more physically ready players returning. Expectations have him taking the next step and becoming a good utility player for the team. He likely stays at Wisconsin past this season learning from a great coaching staff they’ve put together and are developing good young players.
The Wisconsin Badgers start their regular season on October 11 when they face off against the Boston College Terriers.
Hockey East Conference
Jordan Harris, LHD – Northeastern University
Entering his first stint with the Huskies, Harris looked like a pro from the start. He went from High school hockey to first pair minutes with offensive defenseman Jeremy Davies and held his own. Harris did not wow anyone but he played an efficient game which is what he’s known for. He has progressed so well that he impressed at development camp in Montreal and seeing him in person confirmed my appreciation of this player. Now in his second season, Harris will be tasked on taking a greater piece of the responsibilities and coach Madigan has a lot of faith in his 2nd-year pro. All signs point in him gaining a lot more experience and developing both his offense and defense even more. He’ll be very important to the Huskies.
Jayden Struble, LHD – Northeastern University
A player to keep an eye on, Jayden Struble is making his NCAA debut this year with Northeastern. Coach Madigan has high hopes on this newest addition saying “Jayden comes to Northeastern very heralded as a skilled, physical and smart defenseman who can play in all situations.”. Struble has attracted a lot of attention throughout the season and at the combine as being a tremendous athlete and very fit. His game should transition well from HSHS-prep as did Harris’ game the season prior. There is no pressure on Struble but being a 2nd round pick from this past draft will definitely have a lot of eyes on him.
The Northeastern Huskies start the 2019-2020 campaign on October 11 against Union College
Brett Stapley, C – University of Denver
Stapley is coming off a respectable freshman season and is looking to progress in 2019-2020. When you looked at him play for the Denver Pioneers last year you didn’t think he was 7th round material. He looked very smooth and often contributed big for his team when needed. He plays a key position being center and he’ll have to carry a bigger load this upcoming year. He should surpass his 5 goals and 14 assists for 19 points in 2019-2020 as he gains more experience. Denver is a great program and they should be competing late in the year for the conference title. If Stapley develops his game then they’ll have success as a whole. They start their season on October 5th vs. Alaska
Some burning questions going into the season…
The 2019-2020 season is one of the more anticipated ones for many Canadiens fans as they see how some 2019 draft picks perform in the NCAA. It is going to be interesting to see how Caufield’s scoring abilities transition in a more competitive league with bigger, stronger opponents. Will he continue to score?
Jordan Harris played a lot of his minutes on the right side last year and looked very comfortable there. He’s so mobile that he could one day play both LD and RD if needed. With Struble coming to Northeastern this year as a left defenseman I wonder; will Struble and Harris play on the same pair at some point this year?
Jack Gorniak and Brett Stapley are good complementary players who can play up and down their respective lineups, my thoughts; can they become impact utility players for their teams and add to the offense when asked upon?
All important questions and we will see throughout the season if the kids meet their own level of high expectations.