Carolina Hurricanes: Future Canadien RFAs Waddell Might Target

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 27: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) tracks the play during the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens game on November 27, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 27: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) tracks the play during the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Montreal Canadiens game on November 27, 2018, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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It’s been a long week of making things official in concerns of the Carolina Hurricanes matching the offer sheet to Sebastian Aho from the Montreal Canadiens. It is official now, but in the coming years, if Don Waddell wanted to make an eye for an eye, who would he possibly target?

On July 1st of 2019, the annual Free Agent Frenzy Day, which saw big names like Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, and Robin Lehner move to new teams. In the midst of the heat, the Montreal Canadiens tendered an offer sheet to Carolina Hurricanes RFA, Sebastian Aho, which he signed.

It was deliberate and obvious what Montreal intended to do with an offer sheet to Sebastian Aho, make the terms fitting enough to Aho’s favor for him to sign it and make it as the least team-friendly as possible.

With front-loaded salary bonuses, the maximum amounts of signing bonuses possible, which allow bigger market teams to have leverage over signing players over smaller markets like the Carolina Hurricanes and the fact that the contract term is five years, instead of eight, it is conspicuous.

Some argue this is a win for the Carolina Hurricanes, not exactly though. If it were the Hurricanes who locked Aho up before any team could offer sheet him, you could see an eight-year contract that seems like overpay now, but look like a no-brainer and steal in the future.

If not that, a five-year contract that at least isn’t front-loaded, but may have slightly more cap hit. This is a win for Sebastian Aho and his agent, this is however not a loss for the Canadiens, because they lose nothing except for a week of unusable $8.454 million cap space.

Nonetheless, it’s all set and done, and Don Waddell does not need to worry about negotiating a contract anymore with Aho until five years which should be a hefty payday for him. What Waddell may worry about in the next two years is how to get revenge and there are names that come to mind.

Victor Mete is an improving young rookie defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens, he was selected 100th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in the fourth round. In 120 games played in the National Hockey League, he’s registered 20 assists, no goals, but his +/- is impressive at +22. An offer sheet to Mete probably wouldn’t be too crazy, it wouldn’t hurt the Canadiens too much. He becomes a restricted free agent after the 2019-2020 season.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi (he’s Finnish) is a progressing forward, who was selected directly after the selection of Andrei Svechnikov in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He played on the third line for the Canadiens as a center, putting up 11 goals and 23 assists.

He will become a restricted free agent after the 2020-2021 season, Kotkaniemi is a big part of Montreal’s future, he will be looking for a good contract in two years. Depending on his growth from now to then, Kotkaniemi’s situation could look exactly like Aho’s and this may be Waddell’s perfect target.

Montreal will probably want him at eight years too, however Montreal and Carolina sit in different circumstances when it comes to being the one to tender an offer sheet. If the Hurricanes front-load the contract, it won’t be easy on a smaller market team. If the Hurricanes raise the cap hit of the contract, it’ll possibly change the quality and quantity of draft picks they give up, if Montreal refuses to match.

In his first game in the National Hockey League, Ryan Poehling scored a hat trick and scored the shootout game winner for the Montreal Canadiens against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Four shots on net, four goals. His faceoff winning percentage is 57.1%.

It’s odd to judge a player’s expected future from one game, but his potential is definitely at elite levels. The 25th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft seems to be a steal, so far. He becomes a restricted free agent, at the same time as Kotkaniemi.

All of this depends on if Marc Bergevin even allows these three great players get to the point where teams can offer sheet them. In the future, Waddell will not only look back on these moments of an offer sheet with disdain, but with a lesson learned, to not allow a top-name restricted free agent go on the market, unless they demand a cap hit that would suck the future out of a franchise, like Mitch Marner (four 1st round picks).

Offer sheeting a restricted free agent on the Montreal Canadiens with many risks, such as Svechnikov becoming a restricted free agent at the same time as Poehling and Kotkaniemi. In the 2021 offseason, Waddell will need to secure the castle, if he wants to lay siege to another.

light. Must Read. Should Carolina look at signing Jake Gardiner?

Question for Cardiac Cane Readers: If you were Don Waddell and wanted to tender an offer sheet to a Hab, who would you target?