The news of the Carolina Hurricanes signing an offer sheet with Montreal Canadiens centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi has taken over the NHL since the past few days. The Canes revealed that they have an agreement that would see the 21-year-old restricted free agent join Carolina on a one-year deal worth $6.1 million, which most folks doubt the Habs will match.
As we await the Canadiens’ final decision, it sounds like we might already know what will take place.
According to Sportsnet insider for the Canadiens Eric Engels, GM Marc Bergevin has already made up his mind to let Kotkaniemi walk.
This is not the first time Engels claims the Habs will not match the offer. He also said : “Right now I think the most likely scenario is they’re going to let him walk, and replace him via trade.”
It was first believed that the Canadiens could look to acquire Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres. Chatter got more intense when the Sabres’ captain hired agent Pat Brisson to make things happen. With Brisson coming in, the Canadiens have become a rumoured destination for Eichel. With the whole Kotkaniemi offer sheet saga, the Canadiens could become front-runners for Eichel: the Habs would get the Hurricanes’ first- and third-round picks in next year’s draft if they don’t match Kotkaniemi’s offer sheet, and could offer up two first-round picks and a prospect would bring Eichel to Montreal.
The Canadiens could also use those same picks in a Christian Dvorak trade out of Arizona, as Engels and coworker Elliotte Friedman reports.
“I do happen to believe they have identified a primary target here and it is Christian Dvorak out of Arizona,” Engels added.
His colleague and top insider Elliotte Friedman agrees with him.
“I do think there is a legitimate chance that Montreal’s considering not matching the offer sheet,” Friedman said on /31 Thoughts: The Podcast./ “Famous last words, it could change. It might just be a visceral reaction. They do have a week.”
“I think Montreal’s going to take those picks around the league and are going to see,” Friedman said. “I could see Montreal going to Arizona and saying, ‘How would a first and a third be for Dvorak? Do we have the framework of a deal here?’”
And so, if those insiders are right, Kotkaniemi will be wearing the Canes’ uniform in 2021-22.
Source: Sportsnet · Photo Credit: Zuma Press