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Hurricanes in “No Hurry” to Re-Sign Kotkaniemi to Extension

The Carolina Hurricanes can sign Jesperi Kotkaniemi as early as this Saturday, but are they ready to talk long-term deal after a slow start?

While the Carolina Hurricanes are allowed to sign Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a contract extension as early as this Saturday (Jan. 1), GM Don Waddell said there is “no hurry on that front.” Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic took a look at what options lay ahead for the Hurricanes and whether or not Kotkaniemi has been worth the money paid to acquire him via an offer sheet from the Montreal Canadiens.

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LeBrun spoke with Waddell who said the Hurricanes don’t regret signing the offer sheet with Kotkaniemi, even though it looked a little ugly early on. Kotkaniemi had an incredibly slow start to his season with four points in 18 games. But, since guys have gone down and Kotkaniemi has been moved to center, head coach Rob Brind’Amour says, “He has gotten better as the year has gone along.” He added, “With a greater role due to guys being out, he really stepped up his game.”

The ultimate plan for Kotkaniemi is to take him out of a fourth-line role and put him higher up the lineup. That could come as Vincent Trochek and Jordan Staal either move on or find other roles and that could make signing Kotkaniemi worth it for the Hurricanes. Right now, it doesn’t feel like good value because Kotkaniemi is playing a fourth-line role, but if he’s in the top-six, the $5 million qualifying offer the Hurricanes will be looking at seems high but fair.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi Montreal Canadiens
Jesperi Kotkaniemi Montreal Canadiens

LeBrun inquired about whether or not the Hurricanes might try to avoid having to go with a qualifying offer and look to sign Kotkaniemi early, to which Waddell shot down any speculation the two sides have already thought about talking an extension. He said:

“When we talked about the offer sheet, we talked initially about a longer-term deal that wasn’t the right play so that’s why we went short. We all knew there was risk on both ends here, more on our end, and we’ll deal with it when the time comes. We have not had one conversation about what the future is going to look like.”

Kotkaniemi Picking Up His Pace

Lately, Kotkaniemi has been much better and the Hurricanes equate that to an adjustment to the team’s system. The hope is that he continues to improve to make it so the team isn’t looking back that the offer sheet and regretting their offer. Right now, they don’t. We’ll see if that changes as Kotkaniemi either continues to produce or he goes back to being a less impactful player like he was the first 10 games.

Next: Pacioretty Injury Update Pushes Back Inevitable Golden Knights Trade



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