‘It’s unfortunate’: Hurricanes’ offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi surprised some Canadians – Montreal


Jesperi Kotkaniemi and the Carolina Hurricanes, putting pen to paper on a superb offer, woke the NHL from its late summer slumber.

The bold move to retire the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft in Montreal on a one-year contract and US $ 6.1 million in restricted free agency, coupled with the Canadiens’ eventual decision to let the young center walk, turned a lot. heads.

Now count former teammate Tyler Toffoli among those who did a double take.

“I just thought it was all weird,” said the 29-year-old Montreal winger this week during the Canadian leg of the NHL / NHLH media tour. “The whole situation was weird. “

Montreal’s decision not to match Carolina’s offer saw the club receive the Hurricanes’ first and third round picks in 2022.

READ MORE: Hurricanes sign Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi for one year, US $ 6.1million offer sheet

Kotkaniemi, 21, failed to live up to the expectations of the Canadiens – he was demoted to minors in 2019-20 and only scored five goals and 20 points in the truncated 2020-21 campaign of the NHL, what made The Hurricane Money Fall is even more surprising.

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Kotkaniemi, who still has plenty of potential, has scored five times and added three assists in 19 playoff games as the Canadiens had an unlikely run to the Stanley Cup final. But he was a good scratch to open the first round and again in games 4 and 5 of the title series before Montreal bowed to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“That’s what it is… you’re not going to turn down $ 6 million,” said Toffoli, who led his team with 28 goals and 44 points after signing a four-year, $ 17 million contract. in free agency before last season. .

“It’s unfortunate, but we have to move forward.

Canadiens center Nick Suzuki believed he and Kotkaniemi would be mainstays in downtown Montreal for a decade or more.

“How the business works, I guess,” said the 22-year-old, who topped Kotkaniemi in the pecking order in 2020-21 with 41 points before scoring 16 more in the playoffs. “There are so many moving parts in the league, it’s hard to keep everyone together for a long time.

“The offer sheet is part of the company. “

And there was, of course, additional intrigue to a situation that seemed borderline personnel between the two organizations after Montreal attempted a similar move for Carolina center Sebastian Aho in the summer of 2019.

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The Hurricanes matched the Canadiens’ heavily loaded five-year bid sheet and $ 42.295 million – a tool used sparingly by NHL general managers – but clearly haven’t forgotten how things turned out.

Carolina’s initial announcement regarding Kotkaniemi’s transfer was posted in French on Twitter, and the team attributed the same quote from Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin when he tried to sign Aho to his Hurricanes counterpart Don. Waddell.

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The trolling continued with Kotkaniemi receiving a $ 20 signing bonus to match Aho’s jersey number, while the $ 15 nailed at the end of the $ 6.1 million deal represented the numbers the Finn wore on his back in Montreal.

Toffoli gave the Hurricanes credit for at least one thing: making a splash.

“It’s been noticed by people who don’t (follow) hockey,” he said. “It’s building the game.

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“Everyone was talking about hockey for a week.

The Canadians, who also lost Phillip Danault to the Los Angeles Kings in unrestricted free play, quickly replaced Kotkaniemi by acquiring 25-year-old center Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes in return for two draft picks. .

“(Bergevin) has taken a big step forward by adding Dvorak,” Toffoli said. “I always thought it was difficult to play against when I was with LA

“Glad to see what he brings.”

READ MORE: Marketing experts assess damage to Montreal Canadiens brand after draft pick backlash

Montreal will be less captain Shea Weber this season – the veteran defenseman’s career could be over with the injury – but Suzuki has said he understands goaltender Carey Price (knee surgery) will be ready to go when the match opens. training camp next week.

The Canadiens also added free play at the back with murderer David Savard, while Mathieu Perreault and Cédric Paquette were listed up front. And Jonathan Drouin is expected to return to the fold after leaving the team for personal reasons at the end of April.

“Definitely lost a few pieces, but I think we’ve added some great players,” Suzuki said. “We are able to compete.

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They will simply do it without Kotkaniemi, who will make his first trip to the Bell Center as a member of the Hurricanes on October 21.

“I was happy for him,” added Suzuki. “Offer difficult to refuse, obviously. But hard to see him go, (we) wish him the best.

“It will be fun to play against him.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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