Wisconsin, Team USA standout Caufield signs with Montreal, leaves Badgers after sophomore season

Wisconsin sophomore Cole Caufield leads the NCAA with 30 goals this season. (photo: Tom Lynn).

The NHL’s Montreal Canadiens announced Saturday that the team has agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with Wisconsin sophomore forward Cole Caufield that will begin with the current 2020-21 season.

Caufield finished as the Big Ten’s leading scorer in 2020-21 with 52 points (30 goals, 22 assists) in 31 games with the Badgers, also leading the NCAA in goals.

Also the Big Ten player of the year, Caufield represented the United States at the last two World Junior Championships, helping his country win gold in 2021 with two goals and three assists in seven games.

“I’m really, really proud of him,” Badgers coach Tony Granato said in a statement. “He was fun to be around and fun for us to coach as a coaching staff for these two years. I asked a lot of him this year and everything I asked of him, he went above and beyond. Cole had as good of a year as I’ve ever seen any college player have. His competitiveness, his hunger, his character as a kid blossomed and helped our team become an elite team. We all know Cole can score goals, and now he showed that he can make his teammates great, as well.

“I can’t wait to watch him as a pro. We’ll be cheering for him and looking forward to him having an impact for Montreal in the near future.”

Last season, the Stevens Point, Wis., native also led the Badgers in goals (19) and points (36). Caufield was also named the Big Ten rookie of the year.

Caufield, originally selected in the first round (15th overall) by the Canadiens in the 2019 NHL Draft, will join the AHL’s Laval Rocket after a required quarantine period.