Report: Canadiens, Cole Caufield in preliminary talks on contract extension

The 22-year-old is on pace for a career year with 26 goals and 36 points in 44 games.

The Montreal Canadiens are inching closer and closer to locking down their prodigal goalscorer.

On Tuesday's edition of "Insider Trading" on TSN, Darren Dreger said the Canadiens have begun negotiating a contract extension with star forward Cole Caufield.

"My understanding is that the preliminary talks of an extension between Cole Caufield's agent, Pat Brisson, and the Montreal Canadiens started roughly a month ago," Dreger said.

Caufield is in the final season of a three-year, entry-level contract he signed in March 2021 after starring for the University of Wisconsin between between 2019 and 2021. The 22-year-old is on pace for a career year, scoring 26 goals and 36 points in 44 games so far this season.

Cole Caufield is proving he can score in bunches at the NHL level, and the Montreal Canadiens will have to pay a pretty penny to keep him around. (Reuters)
Cole Caufield is proving he can score in bunches at the NHL level, and the Montreal Canadiens will have to pay a pretty penny to keep him around. (Reuters)

Caufield has scored 48 goals in 81 games under head coach Martin St. Louis after the Hall-of-Famer took over the Canadiens' bench midway through last season. The diminutive winger had only tallied one goal in 30 games under previous bench boss Dominique Ducharme.

Talk around Caufield's coming extension picked up after Minnesota Wild forward Matt Boldy signed a seven-year, $49-million ($7-million AAV) extension on Monday. The 21-year-old has accumulated 27 goals and 68 points in 89 career NHL games, and was selected three picks before Caufield in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Montreal signed captain Nick Suzuki — Caufield's linemate — to an eight-year, $63-million ($7.875-million AAV) contract extension in October 2021, and some expect a proven scorer like Caufield to potentially earn more on a yearly basis if he's able to reach an agreement with the Habs.

General manager Kent Hughes is set to have over $11-million in cap space to work with next offseason, with a number of significant contracts — including those of Jonathan Drouin and Evgeni Dadonov — coming off the books. Montreal will undoubtedly be a seller at the trade deadline as well, which would create even more financial flexibility moving forward.

The Canadiens currently sit dead last in the Atlantic Division with a 18-23-3 record.

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