We have our first offer sheet this year and it will probably be the only one. Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed an offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes. It was a one-year deal worth $6.1 million and there is also a $20 signing bonus. Yes, that is correct just $20. The number 20 just also happens to be the jersey number that Sebastian Aho wears. Kotkaniemi just turned 21 and has been in the league for three years. The Montreal Canadiens have until September 4th to make their decision on if they will match the offer sheet. The little tension between these two teams continues from a few years ago.
Back in the offseason of 2019, Sebastian Aho was an RFA. He signed a five-year $42.27 million offer sheet with the Montreal Canadiens. At the time it was the first offer sheet since 2013 when Ryan O’Reilly signed one with Calgary. The Avalanche were quick to match that deal. In this instance, Hurricanes Gm Don Waddell had a few comments at the time. He said how he was surprised that the AAV wasn’t higher and that he didn’t think they would take all seven days to make their decision. Fast forward to this past week and the Canes front office saw a prime opportunity to poke fun back at Montreal by signing Kotkiniemi to an offer sheet.
Is it worth it
Everyone in this scenario gets to laugh. From the Canes front office to every single hockey fan on the internet. But now the real question I have is, is Jesperi Kotkaniemi worth the $6.1 million. And honestly, I think the answer is no. Kotkaniemi has played 171 games over his first three seasons. He’s tallied 22 goals and 40 assists in those three years. The former 3rd overall pick has not been performing the way a 3rd overall pick is expected to perform.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, tendered a 1x$6.1M offer sheet by CAR, has not seen the same success in the regular season as he has in the playoffs (boosted by a 23% shooting percentage) since he was a rookie. #LetsGoCanes pic.twitter.com/M9Yclyd40I
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) August 28, 2021
As you can see from this graphic above, that is a lot of red. And in a lot of areas, he is well below average. His best season came in his rookie year but since then he has not progressed the way the Montreal front office would have liked him to. The bottom line is this is not a player that you would want to pay $6.1 million.
The Cap Friendly contract comparison tool sees this contract most similar to the one William Karlsson got with the Vegas Golden Knights back in the 2018 offseason. The season prior to Karlsson getting that contract he put up a career-high 78 points and he was getting less than what Kotkaniemi is going to get. Jesperi Kotkaniemi is not a 78 point player right now.
At the end of the day, one of these teams is going to have Kotkaniemi next season for a price well above what he is actually worth. If I am Montreal I don’t match the offer sheet and take the compensation of a first-round draft pick and a third-round draft pick in next year’s draft. However, to argue for matching the offer sheet, the Canadiens need someone to play down the middle. After losing Phillip Danault to the Kings in free agency there is already a hole in the center position. Losing Kotkaniemi would further hurt the Habs at that position. But there are a few names in free agency that could come in to fill those gaps. Travis Zajac and Eric Staal are two names that jump out when looking at the remaining free agents. Both would probably come at a cheaper cost than Kotkaniemi. There is a lot more to the offer sheet than just the $6.1 million for next season. And because of the Habs cap crunch, they have a tough decision to make and they only have a few more days to make that decision.
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