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Caufield: Extension talks with Canadiens 'in the back of my mind'

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Cole Caufield admits he hasn't fully blocked out his contract negotiations.

"You try not to (think about it), but you really can't really get away from it," the Montreal Canadiens star told the media, including TSN, on Friday. "It's everywhere, you hear it a lot. But for me, (I'm) just trying to stay away from it. It's going to happen when it happens."

On Tuesday, it was reported the Canadiens and Caufield's agent, Pat Brisson, opened preliminary contract talks roughly a month ago. The 22-year-old winger confirmed as much Friday and acknowledged he's given it some thought.

"Obviously, I love being here. I love this team and this group of guys, so (I'll) just take it one step at a time, but for sure it's in the back of my mind," he said.

When asked whether the dollar amount or terms are sticking points in talks, Caufield downplayed the notion of either one being a reason there's no deal yet.

"Honestly, I don't really see it like that," he said. "It's probably just (about) the best fit for me. (Brisson) and the guys behind the scenes take care of those things, but I'm not too worried."

Caufield also said he's in no rush to finalize anything at the moment. The young sniper is a pending restricted free agent who's in the final year of his entry-level pact. He's due for a hefty raise from his current average annual value of approximately $881,000.

The American has racked up 26 goals and 10 assists over 46 games in 2022-23. He produced 23 tallies and 20 helpers over 67 contests last season, including 22 of those goals in the 37 games he played after the Canadiens replaced head coach Dominique Ducharme with Martin St. Louis.

Caufield is in his third season and second full campaign with the Habs, who drafted him 15th overall in 2019. He won the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA's top men's hockey player in 2021.

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Caufield: Extension talks with Canadiens 'in the back of my mind'
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