Cole Caufield will be out the rest of the season for the Montreal Canadiens because of an injury to his right shoulder that will require surgery.
An update on his recovery period will be issued following the surgery.
“I mean, he got hurt earlier this season,” coach Martin St. Louis said. “[It’s] something he was playing with and he was getting evaluated every game. It’s something he had to deal with. We got some information late last night that sent us down this path.”
Caufield, who turned 22 on Jan. 2, leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games this season and is second in points (36) behind center Nick Suzuki (38 points; 16 goals, 22 assists).
He had three shots on goal, two giveaways, one takeaway and a blocked shot in 17:41 of ice time in a 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
“Obviously, it’s tough for Cole,” said Suzuki, Montreal’s captain. “I feel for him, and he wants to be here and play. And he’s a bit upset, but I think it will be best for his future and next year, for sure.
“Obviously, he’s an important player for us and a big piece in the locker room and on the ice, and everyone is going to have to step up and try to add a bit of Cole’s enthusiasm and energy and what he brings to the rink every day.”
Canadiens forward Josh Andersonwho had surgery on his left shoulder while a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 2, 2020, said he talked with Caufield about the procedure before practice Saturday.
“It was all positive talk, knowing he’s going to be 100 percent OK, he’s going to recover from this and be better for it as well,” Anderson said. “I told him when I got operated on, my left shoulder feels stronger than my right. So, he liked hearing that part. I’m still confident he’s still going to score more goals than he has today, so it’s going to make him stronger, for sure.”
Selected by the Canadiens with the No. 15 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, Caufield has 84 points (53 goals, 31 assists) in 123 games over three NHL seasons. He also had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2020-21, when Montreal lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the Cup Final.
On Thursday, Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said it was Montreal’s desire to sign Caufield to a long-term contract. Caufield can become a restricted free agent after this season.
Caufield’s injury is the latest that has hampered Montreal.
Forward Sean Monahan (lower body) was placed on long-term injured reserve Monday, forward Juraj Slafkovsky will be out three months with a lower-body injury, center Jake Evans will be out 8-10 weeks with a lower-body injury, forwards Jonathan Drouin and forward Joel Armia each will be out until the NHL All-Star break because of an upper-body injury, and goalie Jake Allen could be out one week with an upper-body injury.
Drouin was placed on injured reserve Saturday, retroactive to Jan. 16. The Canadiens also recalled forwards Alex Belzile from Laval of the American Hockey League.
NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers and independent correspondent Sean Farrell contributed to this report