The Montreal Canadiens officially declined to match the offer sheet by Jesperi Kotkaniemi, one week after the Carolina Hurricanes created a stir on social media with their $6.1 million offer sheet.
The 21-year old forward will be joining the Hurricanes at least for this season. Carolina will likely try to extend the contract of the former first-round draft pick. The Canadiens who originally drafted Kotkaniemi will be able to choose two draft options in 2022, one each in the first and third rounds.
Don Waddell, Carolina general manager, stated that Jesperi Kotkaniemi was a player that has been on our radar from before his draft year. We believe he'll thrive in Rod Brind'Amour's culture and system, and will be an integral part of the Carolina we're building for many years.
Carolina submitted the offer sheet. This continued the ongoing storyline between Hurricanes and Canadiens, but this could be the end.
Two years ago, Carolina's star forward Sebastian Aho was offered a $42 million five-year contract as a restricted free agent by the Canadiens. The Hurricanes declined to match the offer.
Kotkaniemi was a skilled shooter, who was sometimes left out of Montreal's lineup last season as Montreal raced to win the Stanley Cup Finals. Carolina loved Kotkaniemi but the Hurricanes also liked the fact that it was the Canadiens who were dealing with the headaches.
In their initial news release, the Hurricanes stated that they gave Kotkaniemi an insignificant $20 signing bonus. This added to the banter on social media. Ironically, Aho's jersey number is 20.
However, the contract price is not a joke. A winger with only 20 points last season will not be able to command such a high salary in the NHL.
Waddell stated last week that "he wants to go to Carolina." He sees the strength of what we have built and wants to be part of it. We are proud.
The Hurricanes lost in round two to the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Montreal lost to them. This offseason, there is salary cap space because of some departures from last year's roster. Most notably, star defenseman Dougie Hamilton signed with the New Jersey Devils.
The core of the Hurricanes' offense, especially Aho, who scored 57 points, remains. Carolina signed a new deal with Andrei Svechnikov (21), last month. It secured him for $82 million and eight years.
Kotkaniemi -- an indigenous from Pori, Finland who will be wearing jersey number 15 and was the No. This young offensive combination could work well together. He had eight goals and five assists in 19 playoff games for the Canadiens.
Eric Tulsky, Carolina assistant general manager, stated that "His age and natural skill set suggest a very high ceiling and the opportunity to obtain players like that simply doesn't come along very often." "Jesperi has a great eye for the ice and puts his team in better positions every time he touches it," Eric Tulsky, Carolina assistant general manager said.
There was still some room to maneuver before training camp. This is especially true with Shea Weber, an injured captain, out for the season. The NHL's long-term injury reserve list has been placed on the NHL's Long-Term Injured Reserve List. It was widely believed that Montreal would look at the Carolina draft picks to see whether they could find an established forward to replace Kotkaniemi.
This was the case as the Canadiens purchased center Christian Dvorak, a player from the Arizona Coyotes, in exchange for two draft picks. Arizona will get either Montreal's 2022 first-round selection or the Carolina pick it just acquired. Also, a Canadiens fourth round choice in 2024.
Dvorak, 25 years old, played in 56 Arizona games last season. He finished with 31 points and 17 goals. He is well-respected as a faceoff and power-play specialist and finished the season with an average of 18:24 minutes on the ice.
Dvorak, Kotkaniemi and others will be able to meet up early in the season. Montreal will host the Hurricanes and Canadiens on Oct. 21.