The Hurricanes have added a promising young player to their roster, and joined some pretty rare company in doing so. Montreal announced Saturday it would not match the Hurricanes’ offer sheet within its seven-day window to do so, so the 21-year-old Finn will join Carolina. In signing Kotkaniemi, the Hurricanes have executed the second successful offer sheet of the NHL’s salary cap era, and first since Dustin Penner went from the Anaheim Ducks to Edmonton Oilers in 2007.
The deal will pay Kotkaniemi $6,100,035 for the 2021 season, with a $20 signing bonus. As compensation for the offer sheet, the Hurricanes will send their first and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft to Montreal.
Kotkaniemi, the third overall pick (right after Andrei Svechnikov) in the 2018 NHL draft, has posted 22 goals and 62 points in 171 career games with Montreal. He put up five goals and 20 points in 56 games in last year’s regular season, and five goals and eight points in 19 games in Montreal’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Kotkaniemi has mostly played center in Montreal, but will most likely start on the wing for the Hurricanes with Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck, Jordan Staal and Derek Stepan already in place at center for the team.
Kotkaniemi will be slated to be an RFA again at the end of this season, and will be eligible to sign a long-term extension with the Hurricanes on Jan. 1.
This move puts the Hurricanes nearly $2 million over the NHL’s salary cap ceiling for the 2021-22 season, so they’ll need to make another move to get under it before the season starts.
Update: The Hurricanes have issued an official statement on the acquisition, as follows:
‘CANES ACQUIRE FORWARD JESPERI KOTKANIEMI
Montreal declines to match offer sheet, receives first- and third-round picks
RALEIGH, N.C. – Don Waddell, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has acquired forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Last Saturday, Kotkaniemi signed a one-year contract with Carolina, which pays a salary of $6,100,015 for the 2021-22 season and carries a $20 signing bonus. The Montreal Canadiens declined to match the offer and will receive a first-round pick and a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation from the Hurricanes.
“Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a player who has been on our radar since before his draft year,” said Waddell. “We believe he will flourish in Rod Brind’Amour’s system and culture, and he will be an important piece of what we are building in Carolina for years to come.”
Kotkaniemi, 21, registered 20 points (5g, 15a) in 56 games with Montreal in 2020-21. During the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he posted eight points (5g, 3a) in 19 games. The 6’2”, 201-pound forward has tallied 62 points (22g, 40a) in 171 career NHL regular-season games, all with the Canadiens. Kotkaniemi also skated in 13 AHL games with Laval in 2019-20, recording 13 points (1g, 12a). He recorded 37 points (12g, 25a) in 67 Liiga (Finland) games over two seasons with Assat. Kotkaniemi represented Finland at both the 2017 and 2018 IIHF Under-18 World Championships, winning silver in 2017 and gold in 2018. The Pori, Finland, native was selected in the first round, third overall, of the 2018 NHL Draft by Montreal.
Stay tuned for much more from Canes Country on the addition of Kotkaniemi.