Canadiens send struggling rookie Cole Caufield to minors

Cole Caufield hasn't lived up to the hype this season. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cole Caufield hasn't lived up to the hype this season. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Cole Caufield will look to re-discover his form in Laval.

The Montreal Canadiens, who have two wins from 10 games to begin the season, have demoted the star rookie and pre-season Calder Trophy frontrunner to their American Hockey League affiliate.

Montreal has recalled fourth-year forward Michael Pezzetta from the Rocket to fill the void.

Caufield has just one assist through Montreal's first 10 games. He's (somewhat questionably) slipped in Dominique Ducharme's lineup after beginning the season on a line with the club's top centre, at least on paper, Nick Suzuki.

There is a snake-bitten element to Caufield's form, but the rookie's influence hasn't been up to standard or met expectations after such a strong performance in Montreal's postseason run last spring. Caufield has produced shots and shot attempts at a high frequency in relation to his teammates, but his high-danger shot creation has been minimal. Natural Stat Trick has counted only four high-danger attempts at goal from Caufield through the first three weeks of the season.

The decision to send Caufield down will, invariably, shine the light again on Montreal's handling of key prospects. Jesperi Kotkaniemi's departure from the franchise seems in part connected to a haphazard element to his development. It seems he was never given an opportunity to gradually meet his potential as a former third-overall selection in Montreal before the Carolina Hurricanes swooped in and poached the asset with their offseason offer sheet.

History would suggest that Caufield will be recalled as soon as he appears ready, with a prolonged stretch potentially being the best remedy for a 20-year-old who hasn't proven anything at the highest level. There is a difference, of course, between being an every day pro and a prospect performing on instinct in the whirlwind of a postseason run.

The decision to demote Caufield will have the Habs look less and less like the team that went on a run to the Stanley Cup Final last summer. Montreal is without Carey Price while the netminder attends to personal issues, while former captain Shea Weber, top defensive centre Phillip Danault, first-liner Tomas Tatar, bottom-six standout Corey Perry, and Eric Staal, among others, moved on from the club for various reasons.

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