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Carolina Hurricanes

Jesperi Kotkaniemi Discusses Return to Montreal

On Tuesday, Jesperi Kotkaniemi talked with media about returning to Montreal on Thursday to take on his former team in the Canadiens.

This offseason, the Carolina Hurricanes shocked the hockey world when they signed Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet. The Habs never ended up matching the offer, and now the 21-year-old is a member of the Canes.

Related: Why Hasn’t Marc Bergevin Accepted Canadiens GM Extension Offer?

Since the transaction occurred, we have heard from tons of people in both sides of the incident. One we hadn’t heard from however was Kotkaniemi himself. Speaking with media on Tuesday, he didn’t get into specifics about how everything went down, but he did discuss how he feels about making his return later this week.

“For sure, that was one game on my schedule I looked up,” Kotkaniemi admitted. “It will be fun there to see old teammates, some fans there. I think it will be a blast.

“I have really good memories from there. I’m so grateful that they drafted me and gave me a chance. It was a great spot to play for three years. Everyone knows they’ve got unbelievable fans, great teammates. I couldn’t wish any better way to start my NHL career. It was great.”

Despite going third overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Kotkaniemi had struggled to make an impact at the NHL level during his three seasons with the Canadiens. In fact, in 171 games with them, he had managed an underwhelming 22 goals and 62 points. Sure, he is still very young, but it came as a major surprise when the Hurricanes offered him a one-year deal with a cap hit of $6 million. While the organization has denied it, most viewed it as payback for the Canadiens sending an offer sheet to Sebastian Aho a few years prior.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi Hurricanes
Jesperi Kotkaniemi Hurricanes

Through two games with his new team this season, Kotkaniemi has failed to hit the scoresheet. While there is plenty of time for him to pick up his play, you have to wonder if the Hurricanes will end up regretting paying him the money they did out of pettiness, given the fact that money likely could have been better spent to help them in their aspirations to winning a Stanley Cup. Regardless, this entire situation made for one of the most interesting stories in the entire offseason, and it will make for a fun game to watch between the two teams on Thursday night.

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