The Montreal Canadiens made a smart move on Monday, signing sniper Cole Caufield to an eight-year max deal for $62.8 million ($7.85 million AAV). The 22-year-old winger broke out in his sophomore season with 26 goals in 46 games before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in January.
Cole. Caufield. Scores. GOALS. pic.twitter.com/scB3dFJX8H
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 16, 2022
While the Canadiens have a lot of bad contracts with significant term remaining, GM Kent Hughes has been wise to lock up his young core pieces like Caulfield and team captain Nick Suzuki, trading long-term security for a favorable cap hit. The gamble here is that both Suzuki and Caulfield will outperform their contracts and give Montreal more maneuverability under the cap in the near future.
This is something that the Buffalo Sabres have implemented over the last year with forwards Tage Thompson, Dylan Cozens, and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson, and will likely try to do with youngsters Owen Power, Jack Quinn, and J-J Peterka in the near future.
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GM Kevyn Adams gambled last August after Thompson posted 38 goals in 2021-22 and signed the big center to a seven-year, $50 million contract and was rewarded with a career-high 94 points (47 goals, 47 assists). Similarly, the Sabres gave Cozens (their 2019 first-rounder) a seven-year deal slightly less than Thompson’s during his first breakout offensive season to get a cap-friendly salary, and Samuelsson a seven-year deal before he had really established himself as a stay-at-home defenseman.
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