Canadiens decline to match Hurricanes' offer sheet for Kotkaniemi

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The Montreal Canadiens chose not to match the Carolina Hurricanes' offer sheet for Jesperi Kotkaniemi on Saturday.

As a result, Kotkaniemi joined the Hurricanes on a one-year contract worth $6,100,015. The extra $15 tacked onto the deal mirrors the Finnish forward's jersey number.

The Canadiens receive first- and third-round draft picks from Carolina next year as compensation. Montreal had seven days to match after the Hurricanes initiated the transaction last Saturday.

"Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell revealed he'd been monitoring his new acquisition for years.

"Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a player who has been on our radar since before his draft year," Waddell said. "We believe he will flourish in (head 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."

The Hurricanes reportedly tried to acquire Kotkaniemi in a trade last week before tendering the offer sheet.

Carolina made it abundantly clear last Saturday that this move was in response to the Canadiens filing an offer sheet for Hurricanes star Sebastian Aho in 2019, which Carolina ultimately matched.

The Metropolitan Division club made multiple references to that incident last week on social media and in their press release confirming their bid to sign Kotkaniemi. One reference was the $20 signing bonus they included in Kotkaniemi's offer sheet, an obvious allusion to Aho's No. 20.

The trolling continued one week later.

Kotkaniemi, who turned 21 in July, posted five goals and 15 assists while playing all 56 regular-season games for the Canadiens in 2021, adding five markers and three helpers over 19 playoff contests. He played three campaigns with Montreal after the team drafted him third overall in 2018.

This is the first unmatched offer sheet in the NHL since the Edmonton Oilers signed Dustin Penner to one in 2007 that the Anaheim Ducks declined.

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Canadiens decline to match Hurricanes' offer sheet for Kotkaniemi
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