What Cole Caufield’s contract tells us about Detroit Red Wings’ Lucas Raymond’s next deal

Detroit Free Press

Lucas Raymond’s pending contract negotiations with the Detroit Red Wings just got a nice measuring stick from one of his young colleagues.

Monday brought news that the Montreal Canadiens signed Cole Caufield to an eight-year, $62.8 million contract that carries an average annual value of $7.85 million. He had 26 goals and 36 points in 46 games last season before having shoulder surgery and has surpassed the 20-goal mark in each of the past two seasons.

The Habs selected Caufield at No. 15 in 2019; the Wings took defenseman Moritz Seider at No. 6 that year. Only 2019’s top pick, Jack Hughes, has more goals (87) than Caufield in their draft class.

Caufield, a 22-year-old forward, could have been a restricted free agent July 1.

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Raymond, 21, is signed through 2023-24, but general manager Steve Yzerman can start working on an extension next season. Ditto for Seider, but he stands to make an even bigger annual average value given his status as the team’s top defenseman.

Caufield is comparable to Raymond, who the Wings took at No. 4 in 2020. (That was the draft lottery that will live in infamy for the Wings: They were the worst team in the league, but were pushed back three spots while the New York Rangers went from the pandemic-imposed playoff bubble to picking first.) Both are right wings who shoot right.

Caufield (5 feet 7, 174 pounds) has 53 goals and 84 points in 123 NHL games. Raymond (5-11, 176) has 40 goals and 102 points in 156 games. Raymond’s .65 points-per-game average is a sliver below Caufield’s .68.

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Raymond figures as one of the key building blocks for the Wings. His numbers dipped in his second season (17 goals, 45 points in 74 games) compared to his rookie season (23 goals, 57 points in 82 games), but it is common for young players to experience growing pains in their second season as they work towards becoming more complete players. Seider and Dylan Larkin (who actually had the same goal output as Raymond: 23 as a rookie, 17 in the second year) both did, too.

Raymond has shown he’s a gifted offensive player, and doesn’t panic with the puck. He has excellent chemistry with Larkin, and is valuable on the power play, where Raymond’s 19 points ranked third this past season.

In the 2020 draft class, only Tim Stützle, the No. 3 pick and the player the Wings would have chosen had they been able to, has more points (177) and, among players with at least 100 games, a higher PPG (.84). Stützle was signed last year by Ottawa to an eight-year extension with an $8.35 million average salary that kicks in next season.

Teams like locking up their young stars. The New Jersey Devils signed Hughes to an eight-year deal with an $8 million AAV in November 2021, more than half a year before the-then 20-year-old had been scheduled to become a restricted free agent.

Raymond isn’t likely to draw Stützle money, but using Caufield as a comparable, Raymond projects to land somewhere in the range of $7.5 million AAV.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.

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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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