New Jersey Devils: Is Cole Caufield Worth Second-Overall Pick?

Cole Caufield #22 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
Cole Caufield #22 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /

Since the New Jersey Devils got the second-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, fans of other teams have been pining to get the pick. It didn’t help when the general manager said he was considering the move. The Montreal Canadiens have been a popular choice as a team that wants to trade for the second-overall pick.

The Canadiens already have the first-overall pick, but reports say they are really intrigued by Juraj Slafkovsky. According to The Winning Habit site expert Patrick Lortie made an interesting proposal.

Of course, that had Habs fans looking at how they could make a trade for the second-overall pick work. Way too many proposals we’re surrounded by Josh Anderson. Others tried to make the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick the top piece in a deal. Obviously (well to us at least), neither of those pieces are close to enough to be the centerpiece to a second-overall deal. However, one piece that is intriguing is Cole Caufield.

The former first-round pick was Jack Hughes‘ linemate when they were both with U.S. National Development Program. Together, they combined to score 94 goals in their final year with the program. They have natural chemistry, as Caufield is a natural scorer and Hughes is a natural distributor. Even before the draft, we wrote about what the Devils would need to do to keep them together in the pros. In hindsight, the Devils should have given even more than proposed in the article to get the ball rolling on a deal.

Now that we’re back to talking about Cole Caufield, would the Devils trade the second-overall pick to the Canadiens for the Ameican winger? It’s an interesting conversation. The Canadiens probably say no right away, but what if they didn’t? It’s not preposterous. Caufield had a pretty dreadful start to his first NHL season. Once Martin St. Louis took over as head coach, Caufield soared.

Caufield had one point in his first month, two points in his second month, and then four total points, all assists, in December. When St. Louis took over as coach on February 9th, Caufield had one goal on the season. For the rest of February, he had six.

Caufield finished the season with 23 goals. That really changed the perception of Caufield. In December, most Canadiens fans would trade him for the Devils first-round pick. Now, he’s considered untouchable.

Next. Looking At History Of Top-Five Draft Pick Trades. dark

When looking at the rest of the Canadiens’ assets, there’s nothing that moves the needle for the Devils. Maybe an unprotected 2023 first-round pick could get their attention, but it still probably doesn’t get it done. Caufield is the only asset the Canadiens have that would remotely get the Devils attention, and even that is questionable. At the end of the day, we think the Devils would do it. It gives their best player another piece to put him in the best position to succeed. Add Caufield to the Hughes-Sharangovich line, and that sounds like a great first line for the next decade.