Rejoint: août 2021
Mentions "j'aime": 2
This is clearly an opportunity to troll the Habs after the Aho offer sheet in 2019. From the wording of the press release, the dollar amount of the bonus (Aho's number) and even the yearly salary itself (Kotkaniemi's number), and the timing (late August). While it's grade A trolling, I think it's ultimately bad for the whole offer sheet process.
The offer sheet system is notoriously heavy with fear, both of club reaction and the steep price in draft picks. That is mostly because offer sheets tend to target top RFAs. The only other examples I can think of right now are Dustin Penner by the Oilers (and we all recall Anaheim' Brian Burke's anger) and now Kotkaniemi. There were Sakic (NY Rangers) and Fedorov (Carolina, different owner) in the 1990s, then almost nothing until Penner and Shea Weber (Philly). Except for Penner, all were matched. And I don't believe there was an offer sheet made between Weber and Aho.
People clamour for more offer sheets. Bergevin made a move on July 1st 2019, calling Tom Dundon's bluffing game with Sebastian Aho. Noting the Hurricanes' notorious stingy ways when negotiating contracts with young players (or paying staff), the Habs offer sheet was heavily front loaded with bonus (similar to the Sakic offer sheet of 1996). The billionaire Dundon shelled out the money from his pocket, a first from him. The Hurricanes acted offended, waited out the full 7 days to paralyze the Habs as was their right, then matched the offer (which had a reasonable cap hit). And some vague promise of revenge.
Now, they made Kotkaniemi a 6.1M$ center. This is a 21-year old guy who had struggled to fit consistently as a middle-six center. He has tons of promise, but his biggest deficiencies seem to relate to decision-making. He's better than the guy who was healthy scratched in the playoffs (that's a result also of the Habs' depth at forward). He was going to get his chance now, with Danault gone. He was passed over by Suzuki, but he has to know he will not get ahead of Aho in Carolina (and what about Trochek?).
Now, I don't blame Kotkaniemi one bit for signing this. Good for him. But it's a bad contract, with only the flexibility as a positive aspect. Next year's QO is now at 6M$. An extension makes more sense, but how much of a reduction in salary would he accept as a 22-year old? It's a huge gamble for Carolina. They'll make the cap this coming season (they just need to jettison Gardiner), but it's another question of whether they'll get the value.
It does put the Habs in a real bind. A 6M$ Kotkaniemi hardly fits under the cap, and a 6M$ QO really is problematic when considering Suzuki and Romanov will need a new deal, then Caufield the year after without that much money coming off the books. Without Kotkaniemi, they will have lost two of their top-3 centers this offseason for a couple of draft picks, and Jake Evans as their 2C.
Overally, it is a well placed revenge. But while the trolling value is great, it's an offer sheet to end them all. Because there is no other justification for this contract than revenge; the hockey value is just not there to justify such a big hit (and only 1 year).