Bergevin: Dvorak's availability played part in letting Kotkaniemi walk
The Montreal Canadiens might've thought harder about matching the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet if Christian Dvorak wasn't available to them on the trade block, general manager Marc Bergevin said Monday.
Bergevin added that the lucrative one-year deal Kotkanemi signed with the Carolina Hurricanes also played a role.
"Would we have loved to have kept (Kotkaniemi)? Of course," Bergevin said, according to Sportsnet's Eric Engels. "But not at $6.1 million and not with Christian Dvorak available to us."
Bergevin added that matching the offer sheet would've affected the team's future cap management with "players we wanted to keep" moving forward, TSN's John Lu reports. Kotkanemi's qualifying offer for next season will be $6.1 million.
The Canadiens received a first-round pick and third-rounder from the Canes for not matching the one-year, $6.1-million offer sheet for Kotkaniemi. Montreal then flipped a first- and second-rounder to the Arizona Coyotes for Dvorak.
Dvorak, 25, has four years remaining on his contract carrying a $4.45-million cap hit. He recorded 17 goals and 14 assists in 56 contests last season while averaging 18:24 of ice time per game.
Bergevin is excited to see how Dvorak's reliable, two-way game translates to the Canadiens.
"He won't wow you but he's detailed, plays an honest game," Bergevin said. "He'll have 'different wingers' (that is, more skilled) than he did in Arizona."
Bergevin also said the club was proposing a two-year bridge deal to Kotkaniemi at a price lower than the offer sheet.
Kotkaniemi, 21, tallied just five goals and 15 assists in 56 games this past season. He's failed to meet expectations since being taken third overall in the 2018 draft.
Bergevin added that, in hindsight, it would've been beneficial to let Kotkaniemi play another year in Finland instead of bringing him to the NHL as an 18-year-old in 2018-19.