Does Jesperi Kotkaniemi have the potential to earn $6.1 million a year?

Published September 1, 2021 at 9:52 PM

Will stay, will not stay... There are several unanswered questions regarding Jesperi Kotkaniemi. No one can agree on whether or not it was reasonable to match the Hurricanes' offer, and thus give a $6.1 million annual salary to a 20-year-old who has yet to prove anything.

However, analyst Grant McCagg brought a different perspective to the issue. According to him, the question that Marc Bergevin must ask himself is not whether KK is capable of performing at the level of a six million dollar salary right now, but rather whether he is capable of progressing to be worth such a salary in the short or medium term.

Again, the answers should differ, but there are certainly some pretty positive signs about his potential. After all, the young Finn had a 34-point season in the NHL at the age of 18, just a few months after being drafted with the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. In addition, he is among the league's all-time elite in playoff goals scored before the age of 21, with nine.

Where it gets tricky, however, is in regular season points scored since the 2019-20 season. In recent years, KK has struggled to produce consistently, with only 28 points (11 goals) in 94 games, and no significant improvement has been seen in his case.

In short, even if the talent is there, nothing is set in stone with Jesperi Kotkaniemi. However, to get back on the positive side, the Pori native would certainly not be the only player paid around six million to be considered "overpaid". Here's a list, compiled by McCagg, of some of the players with more than questionable production who are getting at least $5.5 million annually from their current contract.

As you can see, most of these players are either on the decline or still in their prime. If you were to add Kotkaniemi to that list, he would stand out as having a lot of room for improvement if he is given the right conditions to develop.

In summary, do you think Jesperi Kotkaniemi's potential justifies keeping him, even if it means overpaying him until he reaches his full potential?
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