Hurricanes to match Canadiens' offer sheet for Aho
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The Carolina Hurricanes will match the Montreal Canadiens' offer sheet to Sebastian Aho, team owner Tom Dundon said Tuesday, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer.

On Monday, Aho signed the five-year offer sheet, which carries an average annual value of $8.454 million. The deal is front-loaded with bonuses of $21.87 million - more than half of the total money in the contract - to be paid within the first calendar year.

"We're surprised," Dundon said of Montreal's offer. "We love the player and we're happy to have this done. And surprised someone would have thought this would work."

Dundon's comments echoed those of Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell, who said Monday that he was surprised the average annual value of Aho's offer sheet wasn't higher.

"This was an easy decision," Waddell added in a statement Tuesday. "Sebastian is one of the best players in the league and the centerpiece of what we're building here. We've spoken to him throughout this process and he's made it clear that he wants to be in Raleigh and be a part of this organization.

"It's our job to manage our cap space as our players develop and hit free agency. There was no concern at any point that we would not be able to match this contract. Once again, the Carolina Hurricanes should not be underestimated. We have a plan and all the resources to win a Stanley Cup."

Before Carolina announced it would match the Canadiens' offer, Aho's agent, Gerry Johannson, said his client "100 percent" wanted to play in Montreal.

The Hurricanes will be prohibited from trading Aho for 12 months after they officially match the offer sheet.

Montreal still has $11.8 million in projected cap space with three RFAs to sign. Since teams can exceed the salary cap by 10 percent during the offseason, the Habs can go after some of the league's remaining UFAs knowing they won't have $8.454 million committed to Aho. If they want to submit an offer sheet for another RFA, though, they may have to wait a week.

Since their draft picks - a first, a second, and a third - are still technically tied up in their offer sheet for Aho, the Canadiens are unable to offer sheet another player in the same range until Carolina officially matches. They could, however, tender an offer sheet for more than $10.6 million per season without waiting; the compensation for such an offer is four of the team's next five first-round picks, which Montreal still has.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, will have $11.1 million in remaining cap space with three RFAs to sign after officially matching for Aho.

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Hurricanes to match Canadiens' offer sheet for Aho
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