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TSN rankings: Cole Caufield’s swagger isn’t going to score him
Since the start of the week, TSN has been on a mission to rank young players aged 23 and under in the NHL and at prospect level.

The result? For the Habs, Cole Caufield and Kaiden Guhle are among the top 50 young players in the NHL. What’s more, the club’s bank of players and prospects aged 23 and under currently ranks ninth in the NHL.

Is that good enough? Not necessarily. Could the Oilers help the Habs get even better? I think they could.

But at least the Habs are a little better represented in TSN’s latest rankings, which rank NHL youngsters in a number of different and specific categories.

In fact, of the six categories, three players are present.

Cole Caufield is ranked second, behind Connor Bedard, for the quality of his shooting. Kaiden Guhle is ranked fifth for skating and prospect Lane Hutson is fifth for stick handling.

Is it a good thing to see so many CH players in the rankings? Of course it is.

But would I have liked to see Habs players in the smarts (which represents hockey IQ) and competitiveness categories? The answer to all that is yes.

Mind you, in a league where speed and talent are paramount, having Guhle, Hutson and Caufield is important. I’m not here to say otherwise this morning.

But hockey IQ is what makes the best the best… and keeps them the best. Sidney Crosby (22 points in 18 games) still dominates at his age, even if he’s slowed down, because he understands the game like no one else.

But do you know what else makes him so dominant, even though he’s slowing down on the ice and doesn’t have Alex Ovechkin’s shot? He trains harder than everyone else, and he pays the price. Ask any teammate, past or present, and they’ll tell you.

Which brings me to the sixth category in the ranking, the one I’ve deliberately saved for last: swagger. This can be translated as “how cool are you” as a player.

And Caufield is in third place.

Is it good to have Caufield there? Yes, because it makes him endearing , and that’s important. But is that what’s going to make the Habs’ #22, who has just one five-on-five goal this season, score at the expected rate? You know it won’t.

My OK Boomer-esque piece isn’t about hoping Caufield will stop being the coolest player in town. What I do want to say, however, is that it’s worth noting that he’s pulling out all the stops this year, but he’s not being recognized as one of the hardest-working players his age.

I know, I know: his shoulder may be preventing him from playing at 100% of his potential. The doubts are there right now… and I’m not saying he’s got it all wrong either.

But dry spell or not, the fact remains that every guy in the NHL has talent. Some have more than others (like Caufield), of course, but part of what sets them apart is how hard they work.

And hard work doesn’t just mean skating everywhere. On the radio (BPM Sports), Mathias Brunet summed it up very well when he said that Caufield makes the effort, but not the sacrifices.

And to me, that’s a pretty powerful phrase.

Obviously, we talk about it more when things aren’t going so well for the scorer, who is on a pace of barely twenty goals this year in his first year of contract, but still: he’s got to get to the next level.

Alex Ovechkin won the Stanley Cup when he realized that scoring wasn’t enough. He started playing like Crosby and won.

It’s not abnormal for a youngster like Caufield to play the way he does, and the point is absolutely not to change his personality: nobody wants that in Montreal. Nobody wants that in Montreal.

But like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with the Toronto Blue Jays and many other youngsters in many sports, one wonders if Caufield needs to get a little more serious. And with a five-on-five goal this year, it’s a good time to ask.

He sometimes cheats on the ice(which has cost the CH several goals) and this is one aspect that Martin St-Louis needs to correct in his forward, who needs to position himself better to go where the game wants him to go, to quote his coach.

We’re not asking him to shuffle guys to whom he concedes seven or eight inches, but when he’s not scoring, he’s sometimes more invisible. That’s something I need to work on too.

The good news? These are things that can be worked on… especially if Sean Monahan could play on his trio.

Breaking news

– Reminder.

– News from the file.

– Will Sean Walker and Nick Seeler leave?

– A name to watch. He can change an outfield.

– He’s here to stay.

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