In the end, the Montreal Canadiens simply didn’t play the Carolina Hurricanes’ game and did something no team has done since 2007. They simply didn’t match an offer sheet that was tendered by another team. In this case, the Canadiens have allowed one their best young players to slide across the border into Carolina to sign with the Hurricanes.
That news was announced today by the Canadiens’ organization.
Canadiens Are Saying Goodbye to Their Young Center
Thus, the Canadiens are saying goodbye to one of the organization’s most promising young players in Jesperi Kotkaniemi. The announcement was terse and to the point, simply saying that the team wouldn’t be matching the one-year, $6.1MM offer sheet that Kotkaniemi signed last weekend.
The compensation to the Canadiens are the Hurricane’s first and third-round draft selections in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
As noted to begin the post, a successful offer sheet hasn’t been tendered since 2007 when the Edmonton Oilers successfully acquired Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks.
The Hurricanes Have Put Themselves Behind the Eight Ball – Maybe
What’s interesting is that offer sheet seemed so rich when it’s compared to the body of work young Kotkaniemi has produced thus far in his NHL career of three seasons with the Habs. In three seasons, Kotkaniemi has scored only 22 goals and 40 assists in 171 games.
The other two interesting things are that the salary cap is involved with both teams. It’s seems obvious that the Hurricanes move was meant to put the squeeze on the Canadiens’ ability to handle their own salary cap. One would have to think there’s some retribution for the Canadiens offering Sebastian Aho a five-year $8.5 million per season offer sheet in 2019. The Hurricanes matched that offer sheet.
However, the Hurricanes also now have their own salary-cap crunch. According to CapFriendly, the Hurricanes have a full roster and are $1.52 million over the salary cap. However, there are rumors that Carolina’s strategy is to sign Kotkaniemi for a longer extension that would help the team emerge with a much lower annual average salary.
Something has to be in the works, because otherwise it doesn’t seem manageable. However, there also must be some agreement already because, should Kotkaniemi’s camp put the squeeze on the Hurricanes, things could get ugly quickly.
Where That Puts the Canadiens
On paper, the Canadiens seem to be in trouble. They face a void at center. Because Phillip Danault Daneault and Eric Staal left, right now there’s no replacement to be seen. However, again, there are rumors that the Canadiens might package and trade the two draft choices somewhere else for a quality center. The names of Christian Dvorak, Tomas Hertl, and Evgeny Kuznetsov are the front-runners in those rumors. However, there are other options on the market.
In short, the situation is “very interesting,” as the old Arte Johnson character used to say on Laugh In many, many years ago. This will create an interesting story line to follow during this offseason. It isn’t done yet.
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