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Pettiness and tidy business: The Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet is amazing

There are two ways you can go about trying to get revenge for an offer sheet. Either you challenge the opposing GM to a barn fight in Lake Placid, or you find one of their top young players to offer sheet in revenge.

Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and GM Don Waddell have opted for the latter by offer sheeting Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Many will remember the Montreal Canadiens issuing an offer sheet to Sebastian Aho in 2019. It was a weird one, however, as it was the easiest match the Canes could’ve had. The offer sheet was a five-year deal with an AAV of $8.46-million and while it was heavy on signing bonus’, again, it was easy for them to accept.

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For the Canadiens now, however, things are ever so different.

Carolina has forced them into a bind by signing Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6,100,015 dollar deal with a $20 signing bonus. 15 is Kotkaniemi’s number, while Aho’s is 20. Cheeky.

But the Habs might be better off not matching the deal. For one, Kotkaniemi isn’t a $6.1-million NHL player. In fact, he might only be a third-liner at this point. The point is, however, is that the offer sheet does exactly what it’s supposed to do: put the Habs in a bind.

They already have minimal cap space to the tune of -$1.5-million, per PuckPedia, before the offer sheet came in. If they opt to decline and let the Finn go to the Canes, Montreal gets back a 1st and a 3rd round pick in 2022. That’s strong capital for any team.

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The offer sheet also led to some hilarious trolling from the Canes social media team tweeting details of the deal in french, the Uno swap card, and changing their biography on Twitter to french.

It’s really going to be interesting to see how the next few days play out. I think the Habs are better off in declining the offer sheet, but Kotkaniemi still projects as a solid top-six center and those are at a premium.

On the other hand, he hasn’t done a ton in the NHL so far. He’s appeared in 171 games after being drafted third overall in 2018, scoring 22 goals and 62 points. He, too, was a healthy scratch in the playoffs — a move I wasn’t a big fan of.

I don’t mind this move from the Canes at all. They had the needed cap space, and while a qualifying offer will be expensive next year, they could also look at negotiating a longer-term deal at a lower AAV. He’s also a young player who was highly touted in his draft year, too.

Nonetheless, this is one of the few times we’ve seen an offer sheet that can really mix up an organization. If the Habs want to match the offer, they’ll need to find a way to move out a large chunk of salary while Kotkaniemi would become one of the highest played players on the team.

I can’t wait to see what happens.

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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]