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Canadiens Have Run into Potential Roster Dilemma, Namely with Caufield

The Montreal Canadiens will likely have a key decision to make with their roster thanks to NHL recall rules before the playoffs.

Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens
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Cole Caufield saw his first NHL action on Monday night when defenseman Alexander Romanov was sent to the taxi squad. Because the Habs assigned Romanov, it gave them the cap space they needed to get the rookie forward into the lineup. But, as Elliotte Friedman points out in his recent 31 Thoughts article, the move temporarily allowed Caufield and Jake Evans to play in emergency situations but the roster shuffling leaves Montreal with just one post-trade-deadline recall.

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After the trade deadline, each team is allowed four call-ups to the main roster. The Canadiens have used a handful of them already and Friedman adds:

Caufield and Evans must leave the active roster once either Paul Byron or Jonathan Drouin are healthy. To bring back Caufield, Evans or Romanov onto the roster during the regular season means Montreal must burn its final call-up (while staying under the cap). And the only Canadiens who can go to the taxi squad are Byron and Romanov, because they were there on deadline day.

Perhaps this doesn’t pose a huge issue for the Canadiens as the team could decide to leave Romanov on the taxi squad until the playoffs and use their last recall on Caufield, but the Habs will have to choose. And, because (as per Capfriendly) neither Drouin nor Byron are on the injured list, a decision could be required imminently.

Once the regular season is over the Taxi Squad is dissolved and certain players (like Caufield) would be assigned to the AHL, but can be recalled to the NHL, unless the Habs use their fourth regular recall. If they do they need to wait for Laval’s season to be officially over before calling players back up.

Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens
Cole Caufield Montreal Canadiens

Caufield Is Likely Not Staying Put

What does all this mean?…

Arpon Basu of The Athletic writes:

So, with Romanov on the taxi squad and Caufield on emergency recall, basically that means the Canadiens’ last regular recall will likely be used on Romanov. Which would also mean that once they are healthy at forward, Caufield would not be able to remain in the lineup.

When it comes to Caufield, once that decision is made to either keep him or demote him, he’ll have to go back down to the AHL. He won’t be able to come back until the Laval season is over and the playoffs begin in the NHL.

In short, Caufield’s stay in the NHL could be short if Montreal decides not to keep him the rest of the way. It might take him having a huge game and making a case that the Canadiens can’t afford to let him go.

Then again.. this situation is so confusing, we could be reading it completely wrong.

Next: Breaking Down McDavid’s Odds to Hit 100 Points in 2020-21



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