The Hurricanes tendered an offer sheet Saturday to Canadiens restricted free agent Jesperi Kotkaniemi, a response to Montreal trying to poach Carolina’s Sebastian Aho the same way two years ago.
Kotkaniemi signed the offer sheet for $6.1 million for next season. The Canadiens have seven days to match or receive a first- and a third-round pick as compensation.
“Jesperi Kotkaniemi accepted our offer. He wants to come to Carolina ,” Carolina general manager Don Waddell said. “He’s seen the core we’ve built here, and he wants to be a part of that.”
Montreal signed Aho to a $42.3 million, five-year offer sheet in the summer of 2019. Carolina quickly matched to keep their young star around, and it would be surprising if the Canadiens didn’t find a way to keep Kotkaniemi.
“We’re proud, but there’s still a waiting period,” Waddell said. “When you make an offer like that, we saw a (team in a) vulnerable position. The offer, with the compensation and the core we have, we realized that it was the best chance we had to get the player.”
Carolina’s Twitter account posted the message “People don’t forget” in reference to Aho’s offer sheet. The Hurricanes also jabbed at the Canadiens by tweeting the news about Kotkaniemi in French.
The Canadiens and Kotkaniemi’s agent did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Kotkaniemi scored five goals and added three assists during Montreal’s surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final. The 21-year-old Finn who was the third pick in the 2018 has 62 points in 171 regular-season NHL games.
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