Canadiens Cole Caufield Offer Sheet Outlook, Potential Safeguards
The Montreal Canadiens are once again going into the offseason with a top restricted free-agent unsigned, making many nervous.
With Cole Caufield yet to come to an agreement with the Habs on an extension, a continued delay beyond July 1 would expose him to potential offer sheets from other clubs.
Now, Caufield has said multiple times that he wants to be in Montreal and that the contract will work itself out, but what if he gets an offer he can’t refuse?
Let’s take a look.
For starters, here are the compensation brackets for offer sheets this summer:
Cap Hit Compensation
$1 - $1,415,741 No Compensation Required
$1,415,741 - $2,145,062 3rd Round Pick
$2,145,062 - $4,290,126 2nd Round Pick
$4,290,126 - $6,435,187 1st Round pick
3rd Round Pick
$6,435,187 - $8,580,251 1st Round Pick
2nd Round Pick
3rd Round Pick
$8,580,251- $10,725,315 2X 1st Round Pick
2nd Round Pick
3rd Round Pick
$10,725,315+ 4X 1st Round Pick
If Caufield’s clan and the Montreal Canadiens are at an impasse, it would shocking to see him sign a deal for any lower than 6.5M at this junction on the medium or long-term.
Unlike the Jesperi Kotkaniemi situation, Caufield is more than happy remaining in Montreal at the right value, so it would be incredibly unlikely he would take a one-year deal at a high cap-hit just to get a paycheck.
For an offer sheet to even be worthy of a threat to the Canadiens, only a handful of teams would actually have the assets to make such a move work.
Offer sheet compensation will be based on 2024 picks, as an offer sheet can only come in as of July 1 at the earliest.
By looking at the $6.4M to $8.58M and $8.5M to $10.7M brackets, only 12 teams would be eligible to even present the kind of offer sheet that would make Caufield’s clan pause.
It goes without saying that any long-term offer under $8.5M likely gets matched by the Canadiens. It would hurt them ever so slightly in the short-term, but Caufield likely lives up to that cap hit in his prime.
That being said, regardless of what the Canadiens decide to do, receiving an offer sheet from one of those 12 teams would be surprising.
Many of those teams are in the midst of a rebuild, and likely wouldn’t leave any of their future 1st-round picks unprotected in such a move.
The Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators are all in a situation where they can’t afford to gamble on their future and provide the Canadiens with a lottery pick, or two, with an ill-timed offer sheet.
That leaves the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken as non-rebuilding clubs that could be of interest.
The Stars, who have their own big-time restricted free agents to prepare for in Jason Robertson and Jake Oettinger, would be handcuffing themselves with such a move. The same thing could be said about the Sabres, who will likely want to leave themselves money to re-sign Rasmus Dahlin and their many youngsters coming through the pipeline.
The Kraken not only have Vince Dunn to sign, but will likely want to use their money on improving their defence moving forward. While the Calgary Flames don’t have the cap space to make such a move happen without having to pay extra assets to dump other players.
That leaves the Carolina Hurricanes, again. They’ll have over $24M to spend this summer, but, with players like Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Martin Necas, Seth Jarvis, Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce all needing significant pay hikes in the summer of 2024, it might not be the wisest move for them either.
As we saw last summer, the Hurricanes used their cap space to their advantage, acquiring Max Pacioretty and Brent Burns on the cheap, due to their abundance of cap space.
It’s far more likely that they’ll look to do it again this summer, with shorter-term contracts, rather than the mammoth deal it would require to extract Caufield out of Montreal.
The story becomes very different if a team decides to offer Caufield a deal that is worth $10.725 or more over five years (or a total contract value of $53.625M).
Such an offer sheet would cost a team four 1st-round picks in the next five NHL Drafts, with only the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning currently ineligible to do so.
Although Cole Caufield is one of the most impressive young goalscorers in the NHL, these types of contracts are usually reserved for the cream of the crop; something Caufield could one day become.
However, the immediate salary boost to a club’s financial structure and the long-term risk of handing the Canadiens a lottery pick over the next four or five years would be too much to take on.
After all this explanation, it’s also worth noting that, if Caufield is left unsigned beyond July 1, he could receive many offers from rival teams, but still chose not to sign.
P.K. Subban reportedly received an offer sheet from the Philadelphia Flyers in the summer of 2014, but ultimately refused to sign it; instead deciding to continue the process with the Canadiens.
The Montreal Canadiens themselves considered trying to offer sheet Brayden Point in 2019 before finally deciding on Sebastian Aho, and the Tampa Bay forward let it know that he wouldn’t be interested either.
It goes to show that money isn’t the only factor that goes into accepting an offer sheet.
However, with Caufield repeating that he’d love to stay and play with Nick Suzuki for years to come, his desire to remain is well known.
Given the situational limitations of the Canadiens’ rivals across the league, and the Montreal Canadiens growing fiscal flexibility in the coming season, the fear of a Caufield offer sheet needn’t worry fans.
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Stranger things have happened and I don’t think we should be leaving it to chance. Caufield already proved he’s one of the best scorers in the NHL and he’s just entering his prime. That can make some GMs pretty silly. I also don’t like the message to Caufield that dragging this out would convey. I think decisive action makes it crystal clear he’s a critical part of the central core of this franchise. He’s an American with tons of options available on teams to play with great centres in the States. Why risk alienating him now to the point he only takes a short bridge deal and we have to go through all of this again in a couple years for a significantly higher price when the cap has grown as predicted it will? HuGo, get it done. Show Cole, his teammates and the rest of the league that Montreal values it’s stars and pays them accordingly without having to go through a protracted battle. It’ll keep the players on the team happy and make Montreal a more desirable destination for other top players come free agency.
Entering his prime?
He’s 22 with less than 150 games under his belt. He hasn’t hit his prime yet.
As for the contract lagging. This is pretty normal stuff for an RFA.
I feel players these days are ready to be stars much earlier than in the past, so therefore their primes start earlier. To me, a player’s prime years are 23-29, so yes, I think Caufield is about to enter his prime years. If we think he can score 50 goals while healthy for the full season, would that not qualify as being in his prime years already? 😁
Statistically speaking, a player hits their offensive prime at 24-years old for a forward.
That’s when you’ll see exactly what you have with Cole.
That’s why I said he’s ENTERING his prime years. I don’t think he’s hit his peak even remotely yet.
We should be VERY concerned at this point. And I would look no further than the Canes – and their GM – who loathes the Habs. He would make this yet another emotional/personal thing, and in my mind would love nothing more than to extract yet another Hab, who would be even more explosive on that team right now.
What’s the single reason why the Canes just got swept by the Panthers? NO OFFENSE! Add C.C. via an offer sheet? Problem solved.
And even if he does reject the offer, the Habs have to match it, and that could be more $$$ than they would have doled out if they did their own signing.
This extension better get done by July 1…or else…
The Canes also got pushed around quite a bit by the more physical Panthers.
Their top players didn’t show up, while Svechnikov was injured.
They have to re-sign 3/4 of their core in the summer of 2024. There’s no way they sacrifice their next two 1st round picks with that lack of security.
They’re going to spend July first worrying about locking up Necas and Aho, not running after Caufield.
No Svech was a big reason they got swept. 1-goal games, nobody to match Tkachuk on the roster.
I agree withe basic gist of this article. I don’t think that there is as much concern over an offer sheet to Caufield as many cynical and pessimistic fans seem to think. I will be shocked if an offer sheet for Caufield materializes. Relax and chill out people.
I won’t be convinced that Caufield is the 7 to 8 million per year player until he sees some playoff action. In watching Florida and Carolina, I asked … how would Caufield perform in that type of game….not well!
We’re you not present in 2021 when he performed quite well against Winnipeg and Vegas, two very physical teams?
The guys a 26 goals scorer. Bridge deal. 2 yrs at 3.5. million. Prove yourself first.
IF some GM I willing to offer Cole over 8.5 mil$ Aav for 5+ years, we should just take the picks. 2 first + second and third or 4 first wow plus you save the 8-10 mil cap hit, which you can use to sign a really good player.
And let’s face it a tiny forward that has shown a tendancy to get injured is not the savior that will bring a cup back in town. Sure he can be part of the puzzle if he can stay healthy, but we shouldn’t break the bank for him. My two cents for what it’s worth.
And if he’s capable of 40-60 goals? He’s not injury prone. He’s had 1-2 injuries. The 2 firsts aren’t worth much unless they are top 5 picks. I’d rather have a good/great player than a crapshoot.