NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2021

by | Aug 29, 2021 | News, NHL | 55 comments

Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi signs an offer sheet from the Hurricanes. Check out the details plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Mitch Marner and Gerard Gallant in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed a one-year, $6, 100,015 million offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canadiens have seven days to match the offer. If they don’t, the 21-year-old Kotkaniemi joins the Hurricanes and the Habs get the Canes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.

The Carolina Hurricanes sign Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet (NHL Images).

The 15 dollars tacked on to the end of the $6.1 million represents Kotkaniemi’s jersey number with the Canadiens. This offer sheet also includes a $20 dollar signing bonus. That number represents Sebastien Aho’s jersey number. The Canadiens attempted to sign him to an offer sheet two years ago but the Hurricanes matched it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes’ Twitter feed took great delight in trolling the Canadiens once the offer sheet signing was announced. That included issuing a bilingual statement that was almost word-for-word what Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said when he signed Aho to his offer sheet.

The revenge angle and the Hurricanes’ joyful spite provided considerable entertainment for some and annoyance over its pettiness from others. I’m more interested in the effect of this signing upon both clubs.

Kotkaniemi would become the second-highest paid forward on the Canadiens if they match the offer. While he has considerable promise, his play to date isn’t worth $6.1 million. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Habs were talking a two-year deal in the $2.5 million per season range. TVASports’ Renaud Lavoie said $2.2 million annually was the highest suggestion he heard of Kotkaniemi’s worth from sources around the league.

This contract would create a salary-cap headache for the Canadiens. Cap Friendly shows them already above the $81.5 million by over $2.2 million. They can exceed the cap by 10 percent ($89.65 million) during the offseason but must be cap-compliant when the season begins. However, they’ll be allowed to go over the cap by $7.857 million if Shea Weber goes on long-term injury reserve as expected for 2021-22 ($89.357 million). They can exceed it by an additional $3.4 million by putting Paul Byron (hip surgery) on LTIR but would have to free up some space once he returns to action in the new year.

Kotkaniemi’s new salary would also affect the Habs cap payroll for 2022-23. It would cost $6.1 million to qualify his rights. That’s assuming, of course, he plays well enough to earn that type of deal.

The Canadiens already have $69.2 million invested in 12 players for next season, with Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov and Jake Evans as restricted free agents. They could attempt to negotiate a longer-term deal with Kotkaniemi for less than $6.1 million but it would probably still be well over $5 million annually. They could get over $7.8 million in relief if necessary should Weber wind up on LTIR again, but it would still be a cap complication the Habs don’t need.

Do the Canadiens even want to match? Kotkaniemi signing that offer sheet suggests an unhappiness with his role and his contract talks with the Canadiens. If the Habs don’t match, however, his departure will leave them thin at center following Phillip Danault’s decamping for Los Angeles via free agency. 

The joy of revenge aside for the Hurricanes, this is a bit of gamble for them. The Athletic’s Sara Civian indicates this move puts them over the cap by $1.5 million, but she suggested freeing up cap space by trading defenseman Jake Gardiner or someone claims him off waivers. GM Don Waddell undoubtedly has something in mind to address that issue but it remains to be seen if Gardiner is that solution.

Kotkaniemi’s consistency issues could follow him to Carolina. That would leave the Canes with a $6.1 million mistake on their books (albeit for just one year) plus the loss of two picks in next year’s draft.

They’ll also face the $6.1 million qualifying offer, though Friedman believes this offer sheet was made with the knowledge that Kotkaniemi’s next contract would be long term for less money. However, would it really be worth it if he doesn’t crack their top-six next season or show the potential to do so?

Some are already questioning this move, suggesting Carolina would’ve been better off using that $6.1 million to keep Dougie Hamilton rather than lose him for nothing to free agency. That criticism will grow louder if Kotkaniemi doesn’t play up to his salary for this season.

Other interesting factors could be in play here as we await the Canadiens’ decision. I’ll have more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup. Meanwhile, here’s the rest of today’s notable headlines.

THE ATHLETIC‘s Rob Rossi observes Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is wearing the captain’s “C” on Team Canada’s Winter Olympics’ promotional media.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rossi noted that it hasn’t been confirmed Crosby will be Canada’s captain in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Nevertheless, it’s a safe bet he’ll get that honor.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox believes Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner will face intense scrutiny this season following the club’s first-round collapse to Montreal in the 2021 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner bore the brunt of fan and media criticism for his underwhelming postseason play. For the first time, he’ll be facing a much harsher spotlight in Toronto. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Gerard Gallant will bring a physical edge to the New York Rangers in his first season as their head coach. However, Gallant said they’re not plotting revenge on Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson in their season opener. Wilson manhandled Artemi Panarin and now-former Ranger Pavel Buchnevich in a game last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting tougher isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s doesn’t overshadow the club’s skill. If they waste time chasing Wilson it will throw them off their game.


  1. Wow

    Let the “games” begin

    At first glance people might say…. WTF…. $6.1 M… and as at now they have Centres; and must qualify at $6.1 M to keep him

    That said….

    their money risk is but one year;

    they wanted him anyway (had tried to trade for him);

    they had to make the offer large enough so that he would bolt (from Habs)

    Hit puts Canes just a little over… can get under with easy moves

    Loss is a late 1st and a 3rd; if Koko falters; he can be traded for a 2nd; little downside

    Waddel…. you got to laugh at the childhood games…. $20 SB (Aho’s number); tack $15 on top of the $6.1 M (15 is Kokos number); and release almost an identical statement (to Bergevin’s on the Aho OS)

    This move made other GMs sphincters tighten …. With their now exposed RFAs…. Nuck’s have both Hughes and Pettersson ; Sens have Batherson and Tchuck, etc etc

    The agents for those RFAs and their players are rubbing their hands in glee

    Gentlemen, start you engines!!

    • Pengy just the opposite, Waddell is showing why offer sheets don’t happen.

      If you look at Montreal offer sheet, at the time we said why bother we all knew at the price Carolina would match and in the end Carolina got Aho at a very good price. Thanks to Montreal.

      Just show you GM can be bitter and some will wait for an opportunity to get what they perceive as pay back.

      Any GM today thinking of an offer sheet will certainly be looking at Waddel and saying why bother.

      • Hi Caper

        I wish that more Offer sheets would happen

        It’s part of the CBA, makes things dynamic and interesting

        I’m not convinced re “ Waddell is showing why offer sheets don’t happen.”

        His tact ($20 is Signing Bonus; and piddly $15 tacked on, and almost verbatim announcement (note: done in English and French)… is an “in your face” /payback and let’s be honest; childish , thing; but he had been trying to trade for KK so he wanted him

        This acquires him for a low risk move… late 1st and 3rd.

        He’s young; Staal is 33 starting this season

        Worst case, KK flounders and he’s flipped for a 2nd… low probability with not much lost … late 1st and third for a 2nd

        I really think this will start others considering it; and should quicken the pace of negotiations (by vulnerable GMs) on key RFAs… Pettersson, Batherson, Tchuck, Hughes, etc etc etc

        This will be tough for Habs to logically match… if KK is $6.1 M…. when it comes time to Suzuki ???

        I wouldn’t match just due to the effect it will have on Suzuki negotiations

        If no match… are Habs then back on considering Eichel (I wouldn’t… but who knows) …. Drouin , 2 firsts (Habs and Canes… both lottery protected) ; Canes 3rd, Ducks 3rd (‘22) ; Habs 2nd (‘23) ; for Eichel (25% retained)?

      • The Aho offer sheet was irresponsible IMO. CAR either wanted a bridge for a smaller AAV, of get some UFA years for their $8M/year. They got neither.
        All Bergevin accomplished was screwing over the Canes as everyone knew they would match. Brilliant. Did it help MTL in the end? Nope. I said the same when it happened.
        Call me skeptical that this one happens without the Aho offer sheet.
        I think the key here is what Friedman says above:
        They’ll also face the $6.1 million qualifying offer, though Friedman believes this offer sheet was made with the knowledge that Kotkaniemi’s next contract would be long term for less money.

        Obviously MTL has that option as well if they match.

        This is one reason why offer sheets are rare and every other GM in the league is having a laugh right now.

      • Starting to come out Waddell had nothing to do with this offer sheet it was all dundon, you had to wonder that was a massive overpayment for kk pretty much triple what most around the league would want to give him at this stage

      • Why is everyone assuming it’s going to be a late 1st? Similarly, why assume KK can be flipped for a 2nd if he doesn’t produce?

        Carolina’s situation in goal and the loss of Hamilton make them a worse club this year than last, IMO. It could end up being a lottery pick for all we know.

        Second, if KK doesn’t produce who exactly is going to give up a 2nd for an unproductive RFA they have to qualify at 6.1Mil? Most likely to happen if KK doesn’t produce is that Carolina lets him walk by not qualifying him. So in this case they will have spent 6.1Mil and given up a 1st and 3rd in a good upcoming draft for a bit of petty revenge? Risky if not downright dumb.

  2. bizarre offersheet imho but entertaining enough as a fan of neither team.
    Habs missing the playoffs with or without KK

    • Without KK what do the Habs have to offer the Sabres for Eichel. My understanding is that if they match they can’t trade KK for a year.

  3. Gallant said all the right things. Coupled with interview last week with his predecessor Gorton, Rangers had planned on addressing toughness before the Wilson incident.
    Can’t blame KK for taking offer. Scratched for Evans in playoffs. Paquette and Perrault signed as free agents. I think Habs let him go. Aside from the trolling, pretty good gamble by Canes. Chance to steal a potential top 6 player. Staal on wrong side of 30. 2 years left on contract. If KK has good season, Canes can consider buying out Staals final year. Saves 4m in cap space that can be used on extension for KK

    • Slick,

      If KK does not, will they pony up to qualify him next summer.

      I believe the minimum qualifying offer would need to be $6.7 mill & change.

      That said, KK could blosson into what Timmons had projected, It is an extremely large gamble IMHO.

      • Canes might decide to let Troucheck go as an UFA due to the price tag and yes Staal is just about past his bestbydate.

      • If KK doesnt step up to much higher expectations, a 22 year old former 3rd over all pick wont be hard to trade for at least 2 nd round picks like we got for Bennett. I would imagine KK would be a bit loyal to the Canes & agree to a 2-3 year bridge next summer at a much lower $$$.
        This expensive 1 year show me deal is a great aggressive move other GM’s should be looking at that havent had the luxury of picking in the top 3 for years & in the Flames case forever :-<

      • Uwey, we can only wonder what the situation might be now had Bergevin selected Brady Tkachuk, who went one pick later.

      • My mistake, I thought the qualifying offer need to be 110% of any players previous contract.

  4. As much as I love KK, I say let him walk.

    IMO, he is going to be a very good centerman in this league in time, a star, no, a superstar as some suggest, no way, I just don’t see it.

    It’s a gamble all-round, for the Habs, for the Canes & for KK.

    I cannot see KK making a huge jump this upcoming season, so will the Canes be willing to qualify him next summer or let him walk as an UFA at the age of 22???

  5. Habs blew this one I never thought JK was really that good certainly not worth over 6 mill. Because of the cap so many teams keep painting themselves in corner, for instance the bruins, and mr. Overspent Sweeney.

    • Who has Sweeney really overspent for other than Coyle and probably Foligno.That is the only thing he does well is handle the cap.He is not a good evaluator of talent.

      • Washed up Foligno, Forbort?!?, Huala, and even though I thought it was a good pickup Ullmark way too much… Nuff said. Now back to my Large Cup of the best coffee in the world Tim Hortons. My only day off gonna start off with walking my dogs, see my granddaughter and play my drums! And wait for the obvious answer “way too much information” wait for it it’s coming

      • Tim Horton’s coffee comes out of a drunk pony

      • Now now George

        Horton was a great player… and makes a great cup O’ Joe

      • Why did a drunk pony drink coffee? 🤮

  6. Lyle,

    Posted earlier but it did not come through

    My test post did?

    • A misspelled word inadvertently sent it to the trash as profanity. I’ve fixed it and reposted it.

      • Thanks Lyle

        I guess it was auto-correct… I don’t think I’d intentionally use profanity

        Thanks again

      • LOL. So, what does “WTF” stand for then?

  7. Well the 1st & 3rd looks better than 6 plus mil. They have Suzuki and caufield to think about in the future. I am thinking that Necas is thinking about his next offer from Carolina. As everyone has been saying that Montreal’s finals was lucky so I guess Montreal will be a lottery team and Carolinas pick is on protected maybe they falter and they have 2 chances. Time will tell.

  8. If they really wanted Kotkaniemi they would have given him a long term contract not just one year which as it is puts them over the cap for now and in a big hole next year.

    They will need to qualify him at $6.1 next year, or release him.

    Either way the’ll have a very expensive 4th line centre

    Carolina gives Bergevin the middle finger and he should give it right back and let him go and take the picks.

    Considering they no longer have Nedeljkovic, Hamilton and replaced them with lesser talent the picks might very well be higher than this year.

    Bergevin might consider using those picks in a trade for Pavel Zacha

    • HF30, as suggested above, the Canes or MTL could still sign him to an long term extension next season at a smaller AAV.
      Agree they will be worse without Hamilton, but the Canes give up near the fewest quality chances against in the league and Nedeljkovic’s #’s were average considering that info.
      Decent young tender, but again, about average vs remainder of the league.

      • The Canes may have given up the fewest quality chances last year, Ray, but they did it with Hamilton in the line up. This amounts to a trade: KK and Ethan Bear for Hamilton, a first and a third and a roster player that has yet to be determined to become cap compliant.

        Undeniable that the Habs have to scramble (they would be foolish to sign at the $$ required), but while Waddell and Dundon put poison in Bergevin’s drink it seems they lost track of which glass it was in. Bottoms up, Canes!

      • Ray Bark,

        Every team can try to sign him to a long term extension at a smaller AAV next year if the Canes don’t qualify him….making him an expensive rental, $6.1 and 2 draft picks.

        You might consider Nedeljkovic’s numbers to be average but they were considerably better than Andersen’s and Raanta’s.

        Bergevin can take those picks and go after Zacha or Dvorack for example.

        This seems like an emotional move driven by revenge hoping that GMMB matches it.

      • MB brought this on himself.
        Anderson’s #’s were fine until he got hurt and then played through the injury, then they took a dive. Not a terrible gamble IMO.
        His #’s are not better than Raanta’s when you consider the quality of shots he faced.

        You were a tender weren’t you?

        What is harder to stop a one timer across the crease or a shot from the outside you can see?
        It’s also why Gaubauer isn’t worth what he got. COL was the best in the entire NHL suppressing high quality chances against. SV% and GAA only tell part of the story.

    • Well, Bergevin has once again gotten himself into quite a pickle. When the Aho offer sheet happened, I knew right away that it was a stupid idea and that Carolina would match. So did everyone else. And now it’s come home to roost. It was a ploy be Bergevin to make it look like he was doing something to make the team better when he actually wasn’t.
      There’s also the matter of why he couldn’t get Kotkaniemi signed earlier. If what Friedman is saying I true, that they were offering 2 years at $2.5m. AAV, that is quite fair. Maybe Kotkaniemi was being unrealistic. But it’s just that Bergevin seems to have a style of taking a hard line and giving “take it or leave it” offers and they always seem to blow up in his face.
      In any event, the Habs can’t let a recent #3 overall pick get away for a 1st rounder that will likely be in the 20s and a 3rd rounder that has at best a 1 in 5 shot of being more than a fringe player. As I see it, they have 3 options:
      1. Trade for Eichel. I know that if they match the offer sheet, they can’t trade Kotkaniemi for a year, but I think they can still trade his rights. Buffalo certainly would have the cap space to match. They would also include Ryan Poehling, Kaiden Guhle and a 1st rounder in the deal. Plus Paul Byron to even out the cap hit. That might work.
      2. Work out a deal with Arizona to pick up Dvorak for the draft picks that they’d get as compensation, plus maybe a mid-level prospect if necessary.
      3. Match the offer. And put Kotkaniemi in a position to prove his worth – with real minutes and wingers who can score.
      If Bergevin fails to match and fails to pick up a suitable replacement, that’s a fireable offense. I was wary about Evans being the 3rd line center. Now, he’d be #2. That just won’t work.

      • Not that this doesn’t also paint the Canes into a corner. They will have to make a move to get under the cap. Putting Gardiner on waivers won’t help – no one will pick up his salary.if they trade him, they would likely have to package him with a prospect or pick.
        Then there’s the question of where Kotkaniemi plays. The Canes are deep at center with Aho, Staal, Trochek, Stepan and Necas. They may be able to shift Kotkaniemi to wing. But there’s also a good chance he’d be in the same situation as in Montreal. Playing third line minutes with offensively challenged wingers. That may lead to another mediocre season. If so, the Canes may not qualify him and would wind up spending a first and third for one mediocre year of Kotkaniemi.

      • Howard: Given the fact that you agree the fair market value for KK is 2.5/year, how is it that Bergevin painted himself into a corner? How is Waddell’s massive gamble a fireable offense for him?

        GMs sometimes have to overpay to keep an impact player. Neither KK nor Danault are worth the coin they signed for. KK may well turn out to be a star, but it seems he is two seasons away before that is know.

      • LJ,
        Bergevin painted himself into a corner with that ridiculous offer sheet. No way the Canes make that offer if the Aho offer sheet doesn’t happen. And knowing how he works, he probably took too hard a line with Kotkaniemi also.
        Kotkaniemi is not yet worth $6m. but he’s a player they need right now. Danault signed for only slightly more than what the Habs had offered. Bergevin let a key player walk away and not only have they not replaced him, but they have gone backward.

      • Howard, sorry but I think you are flat out wrong regarding this being revenge for the Aho offer sheet. Go back and read Lyle’s summary of the information available: the Canes tried to work out a trade before the offer sheet, and then gave the Habs a heads up that an offer sheet was coming.

        I said at the time of the offer sheet and say again now, no GM is stupid enough to make an offer sheet based on revenge. As ill advised as the money involved for KK is, the Canes have come to a determination on what is best for their team, now what is bad for the Habs.

        Otherwise you are saying that the Canes’ goal is to overpay with money, draft picks, and a current roster player in order to poke Bergevin in the eye. That helps them succeed in the playoffs how, exactly?

      • For a one year over pay show me deal for a 3rd OA 21 year old player, KK may still be on the cusp of breaking out & achieving why he was picked that high. I remember when Canadiens took him, many thought he took him way too soon, but still I would have said KK was a top 10 pick by most teams. What a waste of a rare 3rd over all selection if Canadiens dont match. Trust me, be a Flames fan & know how hard it is to ever get a top 3 pick ever. Canes could actually announce an extension I believe come January (not sure on rules of that) that may have been pre negotiated while they were hashing out a an offer sheet that they are hoping wont be matched. May be more cloak & dagger than you think lol.

      • LJ,

        There are some reports that it was the team’s owner, not the GM, who pushed the offer sheet, specifically to get back at the Habs for Aho. There may be some credence to that, as I don’t see how Kotkaniemi fits a current need for the Canes, especially at that money.

      • Agree Kevin R, I would be surprised if a longer term extension wasn’t discussed.
        As everyone is right that the $6.1 is too high, that seems obvious. Will KK agree to the same with the Habs? I have no idea.

        It was also reported at the time that MTL was talking trade with the Canes before they offer sheeted Aho. No idea if it was about Aho, but MB gained info into Waddell’s plans before he did it if they had honest discussions.
        That requires trust that the guy you have on the other end of the phone is operating in good faith negotiations. That trust is gone was gone for Waddell when the Aho offer sheet happened.

        If CAR signs KK to a reasonable extension, and KK isn’t willing to do that in MTL, then this is a good play by the Canes with the added bonus of; you mess with us, we will mess with you. There are long term benefits to that as well.

      • Ray, it is possible that a longer extension has been discussed. Even if there is such a plan it still means that the Canes will have overpaid for this coming year, and no matter how blended for the start of an extension for that as well.

        Thus the only way this works for the Canes is if KK blossoms into an elite center who stays with them for multiple years. Good for him if it does but there is an awful lot of hope built into this.

      • The bet in Bergevin’s offer sheet to Aho was that Dundon wouldn’t pony up the 20Mil signing bonus up front. Aho’s offer sheet was much closer to market value overall… not a ridiculous overpay like the one KK just signed.

      • That is the big question LJ IMO.
        We may never find out, or we might.
        Have wait and see.
        If so, they had space this year and used it. Time may give us that answer.

      • LJ.
        Whether there was discussion of an extension to KK or not is a red herring.

        This contract will run it’s course then the Hurricanes have to qualify him to keep his rights.

        That QO has to be $6.1 million, why would he refuse it?
        If he doesn’t get a QO, he becomes a UFA.

  9. I mostly like that an offer sheet was made at all. Is it fair compensation, I would say no when you consider where the Canes are likely to be in the standings, but I’m not paying KK 6,1m

    • Hard to believe the Habs suggesting Dundon was too cheap to pay the upfront signing bonuses in the Aho offer sheet wouldn’t have been taken personally.

      Teams have paid 6 million to get a first round pick that may or may not even make the NHL. Canes must believe a 21 yr old former 3rd over-all pick is worth the risk, especially if he allowed to play with the other Finns on their team.

      And if the Habs sign him it messes with their cap this year and beyond, bonus.

    • If there is an understanding between KK and Carolina on a longer term deal next year at lower AAV, how much below the 6.1Mil do you think it would be? Hard to believe KK would agree to take that much of a pay cut from his 1st year contract…

  10. First, I think the best comment made so far was by Habfan30 saying Carolina has an expensive fourth line center, kotkaniemi. I’m sure the belief was he would be Montreal’s 1st or 2nd line center, like you hopefully don’t draft a bust at 3rd over all, are you saying he was always trash or on a deeper team like the canes, he’s a 4th liner?

    PS LOL Go Canes Go! Great source for our amusement in the dog days of hockey offseason.

  11. “are you saying he was always trash or on a deeper team like the canes, he’s a 4th liner?”

    Nope, I’m saying that Aho is 1C and Trocheck is 2C, making either Staal or Kotkaniemi a $6 million 4C

  12. Hungry for a cup after last year’s run? Here, I made you a Karma sandwich.


    • TheFlyingV

      Canadiens fans are always hungry for the Stanley Cup, I’ve lived through 15 of them…..pretty sure there will be more. 🙂

      • Absolutely. When I said ‘I’ of course I wasn’t speaking of me giving them a Karma Sandwich but rather in the third person as Carolina doing so.

  13. More offer sheets please! Love ’em.

  14. Looks like Tom Wilson won’t be running around beating on the NYR key players anymore, nice job Rangers I wish the Bruins would take notice

  15. If KK does end up with the Canes I don’t think he ends up playing C, as he isn’t knocking Aho, Trochek, or Staal out of rotation, particularly with his abysmal FO%. I think he will be playing 3rd LW alongside Staal, a spot that right now looked like it would probably go to Suzuki or Marintook, but I don’t think Suzuki is ready. One full AHL season should help. KK – Staal – Fest would make a pretty decent 3rd line and round out a Top 9 in impressive manner, while providing great injury replacement depth down the middle.

  16. Kokoteniemie (however that is spelt) signing this offer sheet does not by any means suggest he is unhappy in Montreal or his role. Money was tossed in his face. How could he refuse. He was likely looking at best a 3 – 3.5 million contract for 2 or 3 years. Now he has a 6.1 with the chance at another in a year.

    Yeah he could of loved it in Montreal but man Carolina isn’t a bad place and for that money.