A long time ago in The Beforetimes, a rare thing called an offer sheet was tendered to a talented young player in Carolina by a phenomenally evil storied franchise. That same evil hockey club is now on the receiving end of a similar situation.
Two years ago, the Montreal Canadiens offer-sheeted Hurricanes’ forward Sebastian Aho. As a 21-year old RFA, Aho didn’t have many options with regards to his rights and he and the Hurricanes were taking their time coming to an agreement. In stepped Montreal, tendering an offer sheet of 5 years. $42.27 million. At the time Marc Bergevin said, probably in French, “He’s a player who wants to come to Montreal. It was an offer that he did not have to accept, so for him it’s an offer that for the value he sees in himself, the group of young players coming up in our organization, he wants to be part of that. He’s 21, he’ll turn 22 this summer.”
As it turns out, Sebastian Aho didn’t end up going to Montreal. Whether he truly wanted to or not is moot because, again, RFAs don’t have much control over their rights. Canes GM Don Waddell looked at this as a gift that freed up his summer and quickly matched the offer sheet. Offer sheets are only valid for the other team to act upon for 7 days.
On Saturday, the Hurricanes decided to return the favor tendering 21-year-old Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet. The Habs have until Saturday to match that offer to keep Kotkaniemi. Word is that this move probably didn’t originate with Canes GM Waddell but from higher — owner Tom Dundon, who was angry about the offer sheet to Aho. Thanks to the maneuvering of the Habs with the original offer sheet, which detailed the maximum signing bonuses allowed an RFA, the Hurricanes were forced to pay out a large sums of cash in the first two seasons of the deal.
Tom Dundon is known for not wanting to part with his money. In 2019, he filed suit to get back money he invested in the AAF after he pulled his support from the fledgling football league, forcing the league to fold without paying most of their players, employees, and vendors. Apparently, he likes to make others pay but not in cash upfront since the signing bonus appears to be 20 bucks. This appears to be a nod to Aho, who wears 20 on the Canes.
If the Habs lose Kotkaniemi (say that fast 3 times), the Canadiens will be the proud owners of up to 3 compensatory picks courtesy of the Hurricanes. They will also be down another center with very little depth otherwise.
Offer sheets are fun but rare; only 10 have been given since 1998. The last successful one occurred in 2007 when RFA Dustin Penner was lured away from the Anaheim Ducks to the Edmonton Oilers.