With the initial flurry of free agency in the rearview mirror, the hockey world now shifts its focus to the Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes, who stole headlines July 1 with the NHL's first offer sheet since 2013.
The Habs officially filed their intent to pluck 'Canes leading scorer Sebastian Aho on Monday afternoon, tendering a five-year contract that pays $8.45 million annually. The 21-year-old Finn signed the agreement, giving Carolina a week to decide whether to match or not.
Aho's agent, Gerry Johannson, said his client is open to moving north.
"I think that Sebastian 100 percent wants to play in Montreal," Johannson told Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic. "He wouldn't have signed an offer sheet if he didn't want to play in Montreal."
While the cap hit is certainly reasonable for a player of Aho's caliber, the kicker on the deal is the signing bonuses; Montreal flexed its financial muscle by offering Aho more than $21 million over the first 12 months of the contract.
Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he was surprised the value of the offer sheet wasn't higher and his club seems intent on matching. But Johansson believes forking over that much money so early in the deal isn't a simple process for a small-market team like Carolina.
"I don't think it's easy for Carolina," Johansson said. "I can tell you for sure, it's not easy for Carolina. Anybody who says this is easy is wrong. You can armchair quarterback any decision, but I can promise you this is an aggressive move ... It's a lot of money, and it's a lot of front-loaded money."
Aho had a career year in 2018-19, his third NHL season. He registered 83 points in 82 games before adding 12 more in 15 playoff contests.