Kotkaniemi gets offer sheet from Hurricanes; Canadiens can match

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Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed an offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. It is for a one-year, $6.1 million contract.

The Montreal Canadiens have until Sept. 4 to match the offer and keep the restricted free agent forward or they will receive a first-round pick and a third-round pick in the NHL Draft as compensation from the Hurricanes.

The 21-year-old scored 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 56 regular-season games with the Canadiens last season, and eight points (five goals, three assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“Jesperi Kotkaniemi accepted our offer. He wants to come to Carolina,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. “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.”

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.

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.

This is the 10th offer sheet given since 1998.

Selected by Montreal 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.

During the 2019 offseason, the Canadiens gave Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho a five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet. Carolina matched it less than 24 hours later.

The offer to Kotkaniemi includes a $20 signing bonus; Aho wears No. 20.

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 Thursday. The 21-year-old forward, who was a restricted free agent, scored 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 55 games last season.

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