Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to 8-year contract extension

The Montreal Canadiens have locked up franchise cornerstone Cole Caufield to an eight-year contract extension worth $7.85M annually.

The Canadiens have locked up franchise cornerstone Cole Caufield. (Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens have locked up franchise cornerstone Cole Caufield, signing the winger to an eight-year contract extension worth $62.8 million. The deal will pay him $7.85 million per season and takes him through the 2030-31 campaign.

Caufield scored a career-best 26 goals and added 10 assists in 46 games in 2022-23 before he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Feb. 1. Despite missing nearly half the season, the 22-year-old still finished tied with captain Nick Suzuki for the team lead in goals.

Caufield was due to hit restricted free agency this summer.

Since making his NHL debut in 2020-21, Caufield has recorded 84 points (53 goals, 31 assists) in 123 games. Montreal selected him 15th overall in 2019 and he's developed into one of the best players in his draft class, ranking second to only first-overall pick Jack Hughes in goals scored.

The dynamic forward came to the Canadiens with plenty of pedigree, having won the Hobey Baker Award as a member of the University of Wisconsin in 2020-21. The trophy is given annually to the NCAA's top player.

Prior to his collegiate playing days, Caufield recorded 72 goals in 2018-19 with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, which remains the highest single-season total in the program's history.

Caufield's extension takes one massive piece of business off Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes' offseason to-do list. There's still plenty of work ahead, beginning with this month's draft, where the team holds the fifth-overall pick.

Montreal has several other offseason decisions to make and has enough cap room to get creative.

“I would expect that, whenever possible, we would try to use cap flexibility to our advantage, as long as it didn’t tie us up long term,” Hughes told The Athletic in April. “If we can improve the team either by adding a player or taking a contract, we’re open to do anything that can further our objectives here.”

The Canadiens finished the 2022-23 campaign at the bottom of the Atlantic Division with 68 points. The road back to contention won't be a quick fix, but a solid core is starting to emerge in Caufield, Suzuki, Kirby Dach, Kaiden Guhle, Juraj Slafkovský and others.