Winger agrees to eight-year contract with Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens are locking up one of their franchise cornerstones. The team has agreed to terms on an eight-year extension with star winger Cole Caufield, the team announced on Monday morning.

The deal will run through the 2030-31 season and will carry an average annual value of $7.85 million per season.

Caufield is coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 26 goals while dishing out 10 assists in 46 regular-season contests. The 22-year-old star’s season came to a premature end in January when he was forced to undergo shoulder surgery.

During the 2022-23 season, Caufield’s 26 goals were tied for the team lead and marked the second consecutive season in which he led the team in that category. At the time of his injury, Caufield was 11th in goals in the league, while also being ranked eighth in the NHL with 19 even-strength goals.

In his first three professional seasons, Caufield has racked up 84 points (53 goals, 31 assists) while topping the 20-goal mark in each of his last two seasons. In addition, the star forward has also tallied 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 20 postseason contests, which all came during the 2020-21 campaign.

Caufield was originally selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft by the Canadiens after a standout career at the University of Wisconsin.

Biggest storylines to watch in promotion’s return to Boston

Although the card has taken some hits in recent weeks due to injury cancellations, the buzz entering Saturday’s UFC 292 pay-per-view card at TD Garden in Boston remains hot and heavy.

Rising star “Suga” Sean O’Malley gets his first shot at UFC gold when he challenges bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling in the main event while Chinese sensation Zhang Weili begins her second reign as women’s strawweight champion in a title defense against Amanda Lemos in the co-feature.

Even though fight fans won’t get to see originally advertised names like Henry Cejudo, Rob Font, Song Yadong and Cody Garbrandt this weekend in Beantown, there remains no shortage of big storylines to look out for.

  1. Aljamain Sterling is quietly on the verge of bantamweight history
    From a disqualification victory to originally capture the belt in 2021 to a one-sided title defense against a one-armed TJ Dillashaw in which he never received credit, Sterling’s reign as 135-pound king has been much maligned. History, however, will likely be much kinder to exactly what Sterling is in the midst of trying to accomplish. Should Sterling defeat O’Malley on Saturday, he would pass two-time champion Dominick Cruz for the most title defenses (4) in UFC bantamweight history. He would also extend his winning streak to 10 fights dating back to a 2017 knockout loss to Marlon Moraes. And as Sterling enters what he has said will “99 percent” his final bout at the weight class, which should clear the way for rising teammate Merab Dvalishvilli to fight for the title, it might be time to take stock as to exactly what he has accomplished along the way. With 135-pound wins over former champions Renan Barao, Petr Yan (twice), Dillashaw and Cejudo, along with an 88-second submission of top contender Cory Sandhagen, Sterling has built a resume that is stronger than he ever gets credit for. Adding O’Malley to it should be the final straw in the “Funk Master” finally getting his flowers.
  2. Sean O’Malley looks to punch his ticket to crossover stardom
    Already one of the most unique personalities in UFC history, the 28-year-old O’Malley enters his shot at full critical respect to match the massive commercial acclaim he has been steadily building ever since his bold debut on the “Dana White Contender Series” in 2017. O’Malley, who has never shied away from the respect he holds for Conor McGregor as a breakthrough star, enters his first title shot in a similar position the Irish superstar was when he shockingly finished featherweight king Jose Aldo in their 2015 title bout. Even though O’Malley has recorded respectable wins on the come up and is fresh off a split-decision victory over a former champion in Yan, there remains no shortage of critics questioning just how good the dynamic striker truly is. Beating Sterling, whose biggest strength on the ground remains O’Malley’s biggest weakness, would likely change that conversation in a dramatic way. With his multi-colored hair, flashy tattoos and deep connection with the younger fanbase UFC covets in further developing, O’Malley appears ready to take his “Suga Show” to the global stage.
  3. It’s about time the women’s strawweight division got back to business
    For a division so historically deep with title-ready talent since its creation in 2014, the UFC’s 115-pound division has been strangely quiet at the elite level ever since Zhang regained her title by submitting Carla Esparza nine months ago. Yes, recent big wins from Tatiana Suarez and Yan Xianon (both over former champion Jessica Andrade) have prevented the overall conversation from growing stale. But quiet exits from former two-time champions like Rose Namajunas (who moved up to 125 pounds) and Esparza (who is expecting her first child in September) have reset the order atop the rankings. Zhang welcomes the 36-year-old Lemos on Saturday, a curious title challenger only in that she was finished by Andrade just last year. But to Lemos’ credit, the Brazilian quickly bounced back with two straight stoppage wins over Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez. Lemos is the decided underdog against the 3-1 favorite Zhang in a fight that has lacked buzz of any kind. Yet still, it’s nice just to see the title back up at stake as Zhang, 34, looks to continue her resurgence following a pair of title defeats to Namajunas in 2021.
  4. Will Irish eyes be smiling on red-hot welterweight Ian Garry?
    It’s no coincidence that O’Malley, with his Irish surname, is featured on Saturday’s card in the same city that McGregor once electrified the Boston crowd with a star-making knockout of Dennis Siver (before hurdling the Octagon and verbally accosting Aldo in the crowd). But another Irish fighter on the rise appears to have been strategically placed onto UFC 292 in hopes he can have his own breakthrough moment. Enter the 25-year-old Garry, who is not only 5-0 since making his UFC debut in 2021, the 12-0 striker has also sampled some of McGregor’s famous celebratory moves after recent big wins. Garry looks for his third straight finish in 2023 alone when he welcomes Neil Magny, a late replacement for the injured Geoff Neal. But fresh off a viral head kick of Daniel Rodriguez in May on ABC, Garry looks for his biggest win to date. He’s as brash as he is precise in his striking and a win over the always stingy Magny would be a validating moment in his meteoric rise.
  5. Chris Weidman’s courage knows no limits
    It has been two years and four months since Weidman’s right fibula and tibia devastatingly snapped in a 17-second loss to Uriah Hall. It’s the same exact injuries Anderson Silva gruesomely suffered on his left leg in his 2013 middleweight title rematch with Weidman. Most fighters would’ve called it a career after the injury, especially since Weidman, now 39, was already in the midst of his own career twilight after having lost six of his previous eight fights since 2015. Most fighters, however, don’t have the same resolve that has kept Weidman rehabbing and training to be able to go out on his own terms like this with a surgically repaired leg. The durable and sturdy Brad Tavares stands in his way as most fans will likely be watching with equal concern and admiration for the respected former champion as Weidman aims to prove to himself that he can still do this.