Jesperi Kotkaniemi will sign a one-year, $6.1 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after the Montreal Canadiens decided Saturday not to match an offer sheet tendered by the Hurricanes on Aug. 28.
Montreal, which had seven days to match the offer and keep the restricted free agent forward, will receive a first-round pick and a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation from Carolina.
“Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said.
The 21-year-old scored 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 56 regular-season games with Montreal last season, and eight points (five goals, three assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
“Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a player who has been on our radar since before his draft year,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. “We believe he will flourish in (coach) 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.”
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Compensation to the team losing a player to an offer sheet escalates from no compensation for a contract worth $1.36 million or less per season, to four first-round draft picks for a contract worth more than $10.28 million per season.
Selected by the Canadiens with the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Kotkaniemi has scored 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) in 171 regular-season games, and 12 points (nine goals, three assists) in 29 playoff games.
Montreal gave Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho a five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet on July 1, 2019, which Carolina matched six days later.
The offer to Kotkaniemi includes a $20 signing bonus; Aho wears No. 20.
Prior to this, the last offer sheet to lead to a player changing teams was one given to Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner, who signed with the Edmonton Oilers on July 26, 2007. Anaheim received three picks in the 2008 NHL Draft as compensation.
The Hurricanes (36-12-8) finished first in the Discover Central Division last season but were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the Stanley Cup Second Round.
Carolina lost forwards Warren Foegele (trade), Brock McGinn (Pittsburgh Penguins), Cedric Paquette (Canadiens) and Morgan Geekie (Seattle Kraken, 2021 NHL Expansion Draft) this offseason. Forwards Derek Stepan and Josh Leivo each signed a one-year contract with the Hurricanes.
Andrei Svechnikov agreed to an eight-year, $62 million contract ($7.75 average annual value) with the Hurricanes on Aug. 26. The 21-year-old forward, who was a restricted free agent, scored 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 55 games last season.
The Canadiens (24-21-11) finished fourth in the seven-team Scotia North Division last season and advanced to the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games. It was Montreal’s first trip to the Final since it won the Cup in 1993.