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Cole Caufield’s Season a Positive for the Canadiens

Cole Caufield season

Heading into the 2023-24 campaign, the expectations were high for Cole Caufield. He had scored 26 goals in the previous year and was on pace for over forty goals before a season-ending injury. The Montreal Canadiens still had high expectations for the young forward, however, and inked him to an eight-year extension. Most people viewed him as a lock for a forty-goal season but this wasn’t the case for Caufield. He struggled to find that goal-scoring prowess at many points throughout the season. Cole was able to show his scoring touch in spurts and he finished the year strong reaching 28 goals. Despite the lack of goal production, this season should be seen as a positive for Cole Caufield.

Reasons for Optimism with Montreal Canadiens Cole Caufield

Coming Off Injury

Cole Caufield suffered a shoulder injury last January that sidelined him for almost half the year. The injury required surgery and took several months to rehabilitate. This meant that Caufield wasn’t able to have full and proper summer training. An injury like that takes a while to fully recover from. Caufield didn’t look like himself at many points during the season and his shot didn’t seem as dangerous. This could have been a physical or a mental hurdle due to the injury. It could have also just been rust from not playing for a long period. It sometimes takes players longer than others to return to game speed and this may have simply been the case. Either way, it was obvious that the injury had some sort of impact on Caufield’s season.

Improved Overall Game

The goal-scoring struggles are something that Caufield has rarely had to endure during his young career. His scoring woes forced him to adapt and find new ways to improve, however. Caufield’s playmaking prowess was on full display this season as he notched 37 assists. The extra coverage on him opens up so much more space for him to make plays and his playmaking was able to thrive as a result. This is a new dimension to his game and will force teams to be weary of the pass option when the puck’s on Caufield’s stick.

Caufield was also able to improve his defensive game this season. We saw his defensive awareness improve and he became a more competent defensive player as the year progressed. He won many more board battles and was harder on the forecheck. This overall improvement in his game will make Caufield more of a complete player and a bigger threat moving forward.

Better Support System in 2024-25

This season, the Canadiens were one of the worst teams in the NHL. With little offensive depth at their disposal, the trio of Caufield, Nick Suzuki, and Juraj Slafkovsky were heavily relied upon. This meant they received all the attention from the opposition. With only one line to target and teams becoming more familiar with Caufield, teams were able to find more ways to shut him down. Caufield did diversify his game to accommodate this better as the season progressed. We saw him getting to the middle and into the crease more often rather than just being a perimeter shooter.

However, the team will be improved offensively next season. The additions of Kirby Dach and Joshua Roy will add depth to the team’s forwards. Not to mention the potential addition of a top-five forward in this year’s draft. The team will likely make a move similar to the last couple of years to acquire a young top forward like Dach and Alex Newhook. They also have lots of assets and cap space at their disposal to improve the team’s offensive outlook. This will mean Caufield will receive better matchups and more support overall, which frees him up to score more consistently.

While many people will simply look at the goal totals and call the season a failure for Caufield, this is not the case. Caufield still managed 65 points on the year, not bad for a 23-year-old on a bad team. He also became a more complete player as the season progressed which translates well for his future. With a healthy offseason and a better support system, Caufield could smash his totals from this season moving forward. With all this being said, Canadiens fans should consider this season a positive for Cole Caufield and his development.

Main Photo Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports


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