Hurricanes and Jesperi Kotkaniemi extension is for less than offer sheet Habs refused to match

jesperi kotkaniemi
Feb 25, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) watches the play against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple reports indicate that the Carolina Hurricanes are finalizing an eight-year contract extension for forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Even if everything has been completely agreed to, the deal can’t be signed until March 21, 2022 which is also the day of the NHL Trade Deadline.

The Athletic reported the deal will carry an average annual value of $4.25 to $4.5 million, while TSN reported it will be “just south of” $5 million.

According to PuckPedia, the extension will pay him an AAV of $4.82-million — a homage to sweater number 82 which he wears.

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Jesperi Kotkaniemi extension for 8 years

Kotkaniemi, 21, has 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 54 games in his first season with the Hurricanes.

The 2018 first-round pick (No. 3 overall) joined Carolina in September as a restricted free agent after the Montreal Canadiens declined to match the Hurricanes’ $6.1 million offer.

The Finland native tallied 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) in 171 games with the Canadiens from 2018-21.

His 8 year extension is for much less than the offer sheet that it took to lure him away from the Habs, which was rumored to have been discussed with Kotkaniemi at the time he agreed to sign it.

Kotkaniemi offer sheet and fallout

jesperi kotkaniemi extension
Oct 21, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (82) reacts with teammates after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Offer sheets in the NHL are rare, and successful offer sheets are even rarer. The last time one was attempted happened on July 1, 2019. That’s when the Habs went after Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho.

Montreal’s former GM, Marc Bergevin gave Aho a front loaded 5-year contract worth $8.46M AAV against the cap. The play here was $11.3M in the form of a signing bonus which is what the Canes needed to come up with to match.

“Sebastian Aho accepted our offer,” Bergevin said in a statement. “He wants to come to Montreal. He sees our youngsters coming up in the organization and he wants to be a part of that. We’re proud, but there’s still a waiting period.”

The Canes did indeed come up with the money. Aho is still in Carolina but apparently Owner Tom Dundon and GM Don Waddell never forgot the Habs sneak attack.

In the Kotkaniemi offer sheet, there was a signing bonus of just $20. Why? Sebastian Aho wears the number 20 for the Canes. And if that hint was too subtle, well the Hurricanes tweeted the announcement of the offer sheet – in French! To double down on that, their Twitter bio was temporarily in French and read, “Compte officiel des Hurricanes de la Caroline.”

GM Don Waddell also released a statement, let me know if it sounds familiar:

“Jesperi Kotkaniemi accepted our offer,” Waddell said. “He wants to come to Carolina. He sees the core we’ve built here and he wants to be a part of that. We’re proud, but there’s still a waiting period. When you make an offer like that, we saw 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.”

Touché.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report