Hurricanes Sign Jesperi Kotkaniemi to Qualifying Offer
Who says hockey teams aren’t petty? Two years after the Montreal Canadiens signed Carolina Hurricanes’ forward Sebastian Aho to a qualifying offer, the Canes returned the favor by signing Habs’ forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year $6.1 million offer sheet.
The Canadiens now have one week to match the offer; otherwise, Kotkaniemi will spend the next season with the Hurricanes. If the Canadiens elect not to match, then they will receive first-round and third-round picks from the Canes as compensation. As noted by Frank Seravalli, whichever team lands, Kotkaniemi will be on the hook for qualifying him at the same cap hit next season, and the move places the Habs’ over the NHL salary cap.
The Habs are expected to have some salary cap flexibility thanks to expected absences impacting their long-term injury reserve. Captain Shea Weber is expected to miss most of next season; if not hang his skates up completely. Carey Price had off-season surgery to address hip and knee injuries, which can also be used to afford the Habs additional cap space to start the season. Weber and Price’s salaries can be used to decrease the Habs’ salary cap while those players are on the long-term injury reserve. Montreal will have until the start of the season to address their cap issues and get below the $81.5 million threshold if they decide to match the Canes’ offer sheet.
The Kotkaniemi drama will play out over the next week, while the Habs evaluate whether it is more beneficial to match the Canes offer sheet or accept the draft picks as compensation and let Kotkaniemi walk.
The Canes sit ninth on the Stanley Cup futures board at FanDuel Sportsbook at +2200; the Habs are further down at +5000.