As the 2019 NHL Draft rolls around, the Pittsburgh Penguins stepped to the podium for only the third time at the 145th overall pick. Earlier in the weekend they have nabbed a couple of heftier (and fairly good hands players) in forwards Samuel Poulin (21st overall) and Nathan Legare (74th overall).
In the past the fifth round has been home to the Pens’ overage drafting strategy, but they departed from that in a big way by going with the recently turned 18-year old winger Judd Caulfield from the uber-successful US National Development team. Caulfield in fact was the eye-popping 15th player from that team drafted, which is certainly shaping up to be one of the most memorable and important young squads that hockey has ever seen.
Caulfield, at 85th overall in Bob McKenzie’s consensus rankings was still around at 145, so it’s a good value pick by that measure.
Last word on Hockey scouted Caulfield as:
Another member of the US NTDP, Caulfield is a solid all-around forward who seems to do everything well, but has no one skill that is really outstanding. He has good size and a can play a physical game in all three zones but does not blow you away with big hits. He is a good skater who can keep up with the play but does not have game-breaking speed. Caulfield is solid in his own end, committed to backchecking and providing support to the defence. He plays a simple game in the offensive end, moving the puck to teammates in good areas and letting go a hard and accurate wrist shot.
Caulfield looks good in the highlights of going to the net and supporting talented teammates. That type of role, to go along with his size and some skating ability, is an intriguing package. Caulfield is a commit to the University of North Dakota, so he’ll likely be a longer-term prospect. But getting anyone associated with the success and greatness of last year’s US National program is probably a good idea, and the Penguins do so in the fifth round,
The Pens pick at 203rd overall in the seventh round to finish out their picks for 2019, barring any futher trades.