Canadiens will not match Kotkaniemi offer sheet; he will join Hurricanes

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Jesperi Kotkaniemi is officially moving from Montreal to become a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

He joins the team a week after signing a restricted free agent offer sheet worth $6.1 million for the 2021-22 season.

Montreal had one week to match the offer and officially announced on Saturday that It will not be matching it.

In return, the Canadiens will get Carolina’s first-and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL draft.

“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 team statement.

Not only are restricted offer sheets incredibly rare (this is only the fifth attempt since 2009), a successful offer sheet is almost unheard of.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

This is the first successful offer sheet since the Edmonton Oilers signed Dustin Penner away from the Anaheim Ducks back in 2007. The Penner and Kotkaniemi signings are the only two successful offer sheets of the salary cap era. There have only been four successful offer sheets going all the way back to 1995.

Kotkaniemi now joins a Hurricanes team that is already one of the best in the league and has added to its center depth. It will also give him a fresh start and a chance to take a big step in his development. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft by Montreal and instantly went to the NHL. Over the past three years he has shown flashes of that potential with strong underlying numbers, but his offensive production has not yet progressed much.

He scored five goals and 15 assists in 56 games for the Canadiens a year ago and has 22 goals and 62 total points in 171 career games. He just turned 21 earlier this summer so there is still obviously time for that aspect of his game to develop. If it does, the Hurricanes’ young core gets another significant piece to build around.

This also closes the book, at least for now, on the ongoing RFA feud that has been waging between the Hurricanes and Canadiens for the past two years, dating back to Montreal’s attempt to sign Sebastian Aho away from Carolina in 2019. Carolina matched that offer but clearly did not like the attempt, with Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell using the same quote to announce the Kotkaniemi signing that Marc Bergevin used to talk about tendering an offer sheet to Aho.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Canadiens will not match Kotkaniemi offer sheet; he will join Hurricanes originally appeared on NBCSports.com