Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield made his NHL debut last night in the Canadiens’ 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. The Edmonton Oilers also handed an NHL debut to former second-round pick Ryan McLeod. With an assist in the Winnipeg ICE 4-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders last night, Vegas Golden Knights prospect Peyton Krebs extended his point streak to 22-games which sets a franchise record.
Caufield Makes NHL Debut With Canadiens
Caufield debuted on the top line with Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar and recorded four shots on goal in 15:40 of time on ice. It was a great opportunity for the young winger and shows how much confidence the Canadiens have in his ability to jump right into their lineup and make an impact. He signed his entry-level contract at the end of March and was sent to the Laval Rocket for a few games to adjust. It didn’t last long as he amassed three goals and one assist in two games played and was called up to the big club.
Drafted 15th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season at the University of Wisconsin in the NCAA. In his freshman season, he amassed 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points in 36 games played. He was subsequently named the NCAA B1G Ten Rookie of the Year. He followed that up this season with an astounding 30 goals and 22 assists for 52 points in 31 games played in which he was named B1G Ten Player of the Year and winner of the Hobey Baker Award. Caufield also won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2021 World Junior Championship, where he scored two goals and three assists for five points in seven games.
The Canadiens made some small acquisitions at the trade deadline adding Eric Staal, Jon Merill, and Erik Gustafsson, but Caufield could be the most significant player they add in their push for the playoffs. With their victory over Calgary last night, they move six points clear of the Flames for the final playoff spot with a game in hand. Montreal has nine games remaining in the regular season, so we will get a good look at what he can do before the playoffs begin.
McLeod Plays in First NHL Game for Edmonton
Caufield wasn’t the only top prospect to make their NHL debut last night as the Oilers handed Ryan McLeod his first NHL game in their 6-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. He centered the third line with Devin Shore and Josh Archibald and recorded one shot on goal in 14:18 of time on ice. He is the first Oilers player to wear the #71 in over a decade, with the last one being Lubomir Visnovsky from 2009-10, and only the third in franchise history, with Petr Sykora being the other.
McLeod began the season on loan in Switzerland with EV Zug, where he recorded four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 15 games played. After that, he returned for the beginning of the AHL season with the Bakersfield Condors, where he’s amassed 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points in 28 games played. It’s a significant improvement on his production from his rookie AHL season last year, where he had 23 points in 56 games. Drafted 40th overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the AHL with Bakersfield, where he had five goals and 18 assists for 23 points.
Krebs Breaks Franchise-Record Point Streak
After failing to register a point in the season opener, he is now on a 22-game point streak where he has recorded 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points. He leads the league in scoring and is first in both assists and power-play goals. THW’s Ben Fisher listed Krebs as one of the Golden Knights’ untouchable prospects back in November, and it’s clear to see why.
Drafted 17th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Krebs spent the 2019-20 season in the WHL, amassing 12 goals and 60 points in 38 games played after missing a chunk of time due to an Achilles injury. He played five games in the AHL this season with the Henderson Silver Knights, where he recorded one goal and four assists. He represented Canada at the 2021 World Junior Championship, winning a silver medal and recording three goals and five assists in seven games played.
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