Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed an offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes on August 28, giving the Montreal Canadiens one week to respond. The decision was made to not match it, meaning Kotkaniemi is now a member of the Hurricanes, and the Canadiens will receive Carolina’s first- and third-round selections in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.
Having just turned 21 on July 6, Kotkaniemi already has quite a long NHL resume with three seasons of experience. He’s played 171 games in the regular season, contributing 62 points, and has nine goals in 29 playoff appearances.
There have been some bumps in the road for the centreman, including a stint in the AHL in 2019-20 and being scratched for several games in the post-season, including the last two of the Stanley Cup Final, which was reportedly the biggest reason for the discord between player and organization. At the same time, he scored at the highest rate on the team in the playoffs, hinting at the talent still left to be tapped.
The deal proved too much for Marc Bergevin to want to commit to; one that guaranteed Kotkaniemi at least the same amount a year from now as it set his qualifying offer salary.
Already losing Phillip Danault earlier in the off-season, expect a transaction in the near future to bring in a centreman to fill out the NHL roster.