Maybe it’s the sheer level of bitterness, or maybe it’s the distance travelled to get this measure of revenge, but the Carolina Hurricanes pulled off a troll job on the Montreal Canadiens this weekend that may never be bested.
You may recall the Habs signing then-restricted free agent Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet a couple years ago, a 5 year deal worth $8.454 Million. Carolina matched the offer, unwilling to let the future of their franchise get swiped. In hindsight, maybe someone saw this coming, but if they did we haven’t heard from them as a peaceful August weekend on hockey twitter exploded with the news.
It all started with a tweet...
Have a great Saturday everyone pic.twitter.com/nMxP1Lw1E5— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) August 28, 2021
Seems a little weird, but they’re not a normal social media team over there, so no one really thought anything of it. Then, they dropped the bomb:
We've tendered an Offer Sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi pic.twitter.com/4Mmw3n4DVr— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) August 28, 2021
Shocking, in that offer sheets are so rare. It wasn’t until the details started to come out that the fun began, though.
per the #Hurricanes press release, the breakdown of the Jesperi Kotkaniemi Offer Sheet is as follows:— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) August 28, 2021
Cap Hit: $6,100,035
Signing Bonus: $20
It's worth noting that Kotkaniemi's Qualifying Offer next season will be $6,100,015.
The added $15 on Kotkaniemi’s base salary - his number - doesn’t seem to be getting the same amount of attention as the $20 signing bonus, but it really ties the whole thing up in a neat little bow.— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) August 28, 2021
And then they stepped it up:
Les Hurricanes ont annoncé aujourd’hui avoir déposé une offre hostile au joueur autonome avec restriction Jesperi Kotkaniemi des Canadiens de la Montreal. L’entente proposée est d’une durée de un ans et d’une valeur annuelle moyenne de 6,1 millions $.— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) August 28, 2021
Con't: “The offer, with the compensation and the core we have, we realized that it was the best chance we had to get the player.” (2/2)— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) August 28, 2021
The words in the press release may feel familiar to some. That’s because they are, word for word, what Habs GM Marc Bergevin said about Aho when they signed him to the offer sheet.
This was a lot of fun to watch as it played out, and gave hockey fans something to do as we await our respective training camps. And while it may even turn out to be a good move by the Canes (whether through Kotkaniemi performing well this season for them, or the compensatory draft picks), it certainly doesn’t change an absolutely dreadful offseason in Carolina. Letting Dougie Hamilton walk over money that they clearly had to spend is a pretty bad look, as was trading away their Calder trophy-nominated goaltender in Alex Nedelkovich. Add in the signing of Tony DeAngelo after he became too toxic for the New York Rangers to justify keeping, and this seems as much an act of PR repair and distraction as it does a measure of revenge.
And if the Habs don’t qualify him, and Kotkaniemi underperforms? Well, at least the rest of us had a good laugh about it all. The Canadiens could end up being the ones getting the last laugh, though.
Meanwhile, we’re 26 days away from the Canucks first pre-season contest as they take on the NHL’s 32nd franchise: The Seattle Kraken. The three Kraken ‘home games’ will be played in WHL rinks across Washington State. The Canucks will meet them in Spokane, and there are also games in Everett and Kent, WA (home of the Tri City Americans).
The Kraken regular season home opener is also against the Canucks on October 23rd, while they make their first visit to Rogers Arena Monday, Dec 27th.