Montreal Canadiens forward Cole Caufield will miss the rest of the 2022-23 NHL season after suffering a right shoulder injury that will require surgery, the team announced Saturday.
Caufield will undergo surgery "in the near future", and an update on the timeline for his recovery will be provided after the procedure.
According to Sportsnet's Eric Engels, the 22-year-old had been playing with the injury for a significant chunk of the season.
Caufield was in the midst of a career year, scoring 26 goals and registering 10 assists for 36 points in 46 games.
Head coach Martin St. Louis told reporters Caufield was being evaluated following every game after injuring his shoulder earlier this season. A medical update on Friday determined that the star sniper should be shut down for the season.
Montreal's dressing room was somber on Saturday morning as players spoke to reporters following practice.
"It sucks," forward Josh Anderson said about losing Caufield. "Everyone on this team loves him, the fanbase, the whole city loves him. It's hard to talk about because it's all fresh to us."
The Habs will not only struggle to replace his goal contributions on the ice, but also his infectious energy in the locker room amidst a difficult season for the club.
"He's an important player for us and a big piece in the locker room," captain and linemate Nick Suzuki said. "Everyone's gonna have to step up and try to add a bit of Cole's enthusiasm and energy that he brings to the rink everyday."
Caufield is only latest name to be added to the Canadiens' long list of injuries; a list that includes Jonathan Drouin, Jake Allen, Brendan Gallagher and 2022 first-overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with a lower-body injury.
"When it rains, it pours, it looks like," Anderson said. "We've got a lot of guys going out with injuries, but it gives other guys opportunities to step up and create a name for themselves."
The Mosinee, Wisconsin native participated in practice on Friday, and spoke to the media afterwards, fielding multiple questions on the progress of contract negotiations with the Canadiens.
“I love being here, I love this team and this group of guys,” Caufield said. “So I just take it one step at a time. But for sure it’s in the back of my mind.”
Forward Alex Belzile was called up from the AHL's Laval Rocket in a corresponding move.
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