Kotkaniemi goes to Hurricanes after Canadiens pass on match

MONTREAL (AP) — Jesperi Kotkaniemi is now a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Saturday the club won’t match Carolina’s one-year, $6.1 million offer for the 21-year-old restricted free agent forward.

“Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision,” Bergevin said in a statement.

Montreal will receive first- and third-round picks in the 2022 draft from the Hurricanes.

Later, the Canadiens acquired center Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes for a 2022 first-round draft choice and a 2024 second-round pick.

The six-foot-two, 201-pound Kotkaniemi, taken third overall by Montreal in the 2018 draft, had five goals and 15 assists in 56 regular-season games last season. The Finn added five goals and three assists in 19 playoff games.

Carolina’s offer sheet was a response to Montreal trying to poach Carolina’s Sebastian Aho the same way two years ago. Montreal signed Aho to a $42.3 million, five-year offer sheet in the summer of 2019. Carolina quickly matched.

After Kotkaniemi signed the offer, Carolina’s Twitter account posted the message “People don’t forget” about Aho’s offer sheet and referenced the $20 signing bonus in Kotkaniemi’s deal — Aho’s jersey number. Kotkaniemi’s contract which is worth a total of $6,100,015 in a nod to his No. 15. The Hurricanes also jabbed at the Canadiens by tweeting the news about Kotkaniemi in French.

The 25-year-old Dvorak had 17 goals and 14 assists in 56 games last season. He has 67 goals and 79 assists in 302 career regular-season games, all with the Coyotes.

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