Trade Deadline Coming On Faster For Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

With just two points this calendar year, the most Hurricanes fans have heard from Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been on the jumbotron at PNC. Right now the only thing keeping Kotkaniemi in Carolina at this point is his team friendly deal, but the trade deadline has got to be coming much faster for #82

New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes
New Jersey Devils v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

Simon and Garfunkel sang "Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio?" but most, if not all, Carolina Hurricanes fans have been singing "Where have you gone Jesperi Kotkaniemi?" this season. Kotkaniemi has just two points for the calendar year and had but one the entire month of December. With the trade deadline looming for the entire NHL, it has to be coming faster for Kotkaniemi.

As it stands, the only thing keeping Kotkaniemi in Raleigh has to be his team friendly deal. Jesperi Kotkaniemi's salary is $4,500,000 and his cap hit is $4,820,000 for this season. In his current deal, he will be a UFA at the end of the 2029-30 season when he is 29 years old.

As the trade deadline comes up, you have to be expecting Hurricanes GM Don Waddell wondering,
are the Hurricanes paying too much for what is essentially a warm body in Kotkaniemi?

None of the matrixes say anything all that postive about Kotkaniemi this year. Even the tried and truth "He's a defensive 4th liner" isn't ringing a bell. As of this writing, he is -10, and has a career -8. So that is out. Some might stretch and point to his production with the Hurricanes in the past, particularly in the playoffs. While I certainly respect that, I have to remind myself that we are living in the present, and those numbers aren't helping us now.

At the end of the day the Hurricanes have a couple of options that seem feasible for a pre trade deadline move concerning Kotkaniemi.


First, the Canes could replace him 1 for 1. Finding someone that will take the same deal, but offer even just a little bit more offensive production would be a move. Morgan Frost in Phildelphia might be an option. He is an RFA at the end of the year. Older than Kotkaniemi by just a year, he has 27 points in 43 and carries a much lower cap hit.

Ditching Kotkaniemi, and perhaps a Brandon Lemieux, folding that money untl a level up for a far more productive center might be another option the Hurricanes take before the trade deadline. There are any number of centers that could fill this role, and bring in offensive production that would rival both Lemieux and Jesperi Kotkaniemi in what they bring to the table.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Vancouver Canucks v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

Finally, the Carolina Hurricanes could do nothing. The trade deadline could come and pass with Jesperi Kotkaniemi still starting in Raleigh. Of the three, I think this might be the the most likely. For whatever reason Kotkaniemi has kept his spot here in Carolina. If it is to spite the Montreal Canadiens, than I am all for it, but you have to wonder if anyone in the front offices at PNC is going to hang on this long to a player who is not producing something out of spite.

There is hope that Jesperi Kotkaniemi gets things turned around. He did have an assist in Saturday's 3-1 fin over the Vegas Golden Knights. He was +1 for the night as well, which is the second time that has happened this year. Still you have to wonder if there isn't a trade deadline move in the future for
Jesperi Kotkaniemi.