Jan 18: General manager Kent Hughes added some more fuel to the Caufield rumor mill today, telling reporters at Canadiens practice that the team is interested in signing Caufield to a longer-term extension. The news makes the comparison to Boldy’s seven-year, $7MM cap hit contract even more relevant, and it will surely remain in the back pocket of both parties as they continue to negotiate a contract.
Jan 17: After falling to 15th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old Cole Caufield now finds himself the focal point of the Montreal Canadiens’ rebuild.
The ups and downs of a chaotic 2021-22 season limited Caufield’s offensive production in his first NHL campaign. With coaching uncertainty and an improved locker room vibe, though, Caufield has excelled in his sophomore season. His 26 goals lead the team by a mile, and his 36 points are just one behind linemate Nick Suzuki.
Now, the team is lining up to sign one of its most crucial contracts for the next few seasons. TSN’s Darren Dreger said on Tuesday’s edition of “Insider Trading” that the Canadiens have had preliminary extension talks with Caufield’s agent, Pat Brisson. Dreger noted that the conversation started around a month ago.
Coming out of college to join the team at the end of the 2020-21 season, Caufield is now in the third and final season of his entry-level contract. In the event that contract talks between the two parties turn less than agreeable, Caufield is not eligible for arbitration.
The new management regime of Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton has largely been heralded since taking over the Canadiens, giving the team a bright future soon after plummeting from contention over the last 24 months. They haven’t been tasked with signing any big contracts yet, however, and this is a high-stakes first test.
Fellow 2019 first-round selection Matt Boldy just signed a seven-year, $49MM contract with the Minnesota Wild that could be comparable for Caufield and Montreal. However, in the eyes of Caufield’s camp, that’s likely a starting point, not an end goal. Caufield has shown greater goal-scoring ability than Boldy and is playing further up in the lineup on a struggling team. It wouldn’t surprise many to see a long-term extension for Caufield start with a greater cap hit than $7MM.