Kotkaniemi's Value at the Trade Deadline

Carolina Hurricanes v Arizona Coyotes
Carolina Hurricanes v Arizona Coyotes / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

It has been a wild career already for the Carolina Hurricanes 23 year-old center. Formerly a third overall draft choice of the Montreal Canadians in the 2018 NHL entry draft, Jesperi Kotkaniemi is already in his sixth season in the NHL and third season in Raleigh. Controversy has followed this young man since the acquisition as Don Waddell signed him with an offer sheet as a restricted free agent.

Before even discussing the Finnish forward's play on the ice, his contract must be added to the oddness off the ice. Waddell doubled down after acquiring Kotkaniemi and signed him to a 8 year contract that expires after the 2029-30 season concludes. The yearly salary cap hit for the contract is $4.820 million, which was and is quite high for his production.

Other than an impressive performance in the playoffs for Montreal, Kotkaniemi had never been able to put it all together in the regular season. Last season, the Pori, Finland native took a step forward with 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points. Career highs all around for him, but still not mind-blowing statistics for a player of his draft status and contract.

If last season was one step forward, then this season was two steps back. After 60 games played, Kotkaniemi has just 10 goals and 21 points with an alarming minus-8 rating for what has been deemed a solid defensive center.

This season is one that Carolina has targeted as one to go all in and try to win the Stanley Cup after many successful seasons that fell short of that goal. Adding to a strong roster this past summer, Waddell seems to have put all the chips in front of him. Because of this, the Canes are looking to buy at the trade deadline and some young players may be casualties of pursuing top talent.

Like every player, the management around the NHL will have portions of fans for the player and some not. One thing is for certain, this kid is not a finished product by far. At such a young age and with 171 NHL games played, it is hard to believe that we have seen the peak of his production. Unfortunately for him, this team is ready to win now and cannot wait.

It takes assets to acquire veteran talent this time of year and Kotkaniemi is not blowing anyone away but was drafted third overall for a reason. This kid has shown flashes of brilliance on both sides of the ice. A playoff performer, Kotkaniemi already has played in 58 playoff games. Additionally, Kotkaniemi has proven durable, playing in all the games this year and all 82 games last season.

A player that has time to fill out and hone his skill, the former 2018 draft choice has tons of potential. For this reason, his value is still fairly high around the NHL. The contract is not ideal currently but it is seen as a "steal" if he finds his true potential down the line. For this season, the Canes may need to take on some of his contracts for the remainder of this season to trade him.

The Canes have most of their draft choices so combining Kotkaniemi with a first-round pick should be able to get Waddell a seat at the table for the big names available. Whether that is the route taken, Waddell has plenty of bullets in the chamber to use by March 8th and Kotkaniemi is a big one.

Hurricanes fans ready for legal sports betting on March 11th can pre-register for FanDuel Sportsbook right now to secure up to $300 in bonus bets for the big day! Signing up now ensures you'll get $100 in bonus bets, then after launch, you can bet $5 or more (with a $10 deposit) on any game to automatically receive an additional $200 in bonus bets. Sign up for FanDuel now!