Canadiens decide not to match Hurricanes' offer sheet for Kotkaniemi

·Hockey writer
·2 min read

Jesperi Kotkaniemi is now a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Montreal Canadiens will not match the Hurricanes' offer sheet for the 21-year-old forward, the team announced on Saturday, letting Kotkaniemi officially move down south.

The Canadiens will receive Carolina's first- and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation for losing Kotkaniemi.

"Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said on Saturday.

Carolina offered the 21-year-old Kotkaniemi a one-year, $6.1-million contract, which he signed on Aug 28. The Canadiens waited until the last day in their seven-day mulling period to announce their decision not to match it.

This is the first offer sheet not to be matched, resulting in the player moving teams, since Dustin Penner signed one from the Edmonton Oilers in 2007, and the Anaheim Ducks let him walk in exchange for the draft picks.

These two clubs are certainly among the highlights of an entertaining couple of weeks. Going back to 2019, the Canadiens sent an offer sheet to Hurricanes star centre Sebastian Aho — which Carolina promptly matched to keep the player — and now two years later, they are getting yet another Finn in this similar transaction. From $20 signing bonuses to official statements in French, there have been loads of subtle jabs at Montreal’s expense by the Hurricanes during this short saga.

 Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a Carolina Hurricane. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a Carolina Hurricane. (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Now, Kotkaniemi will be heading to a new team on a one-year deal and will return to restricted free agency yet again this summer, if Carolina does not extend him to a multi-year contract before then.

It’s too early to tell whether this feud between unlikely rivals is now closed or just getting started.

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