Don Waddell again felt the need to justify the signing of Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Jeff Drouin
December 29, 2021  (6:12 PM)

In offering Jesperi Kotkaniemi $6.1 million, Hurricanes GM Don Waddell was probably the only one who believed that KK was actually worth his salary. At least, he hoped his investment would pay off.

The CH's first pick in 2018 started the 2021-2022 season in slow motion. A new system of play, a new position and a new team... His GM tried to find a thousand and one reasons to justify the poor start to the season of the young Finnish.
"One of the reasons is that we play in a different system than the one he was in, everyone plays differently, we try to play fast. He likes to slow the game down. That's just his style that he's had his whole career. So I think there was a big adjustment."
"He wasn't in position at all. I think the adjustment for that was bigger than we all thought it would be," referring to KK playing on the wing at the beginning of the season.
However, since the absences of Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal, KK has been on fire! He is playing up to the expectations placed on him. The number 82 has accumulated no less than five points in his last three games.
"Since then, you've seen the type of player he is."
KK had started the season with only four points in 18 games, but since moving to center, he has nine points in his last 11 games. Remember, most of those points have come on the fourth line.
Don Waddell was asked if he regretted the signing of KK. He answered with a resounding NO. However, there was a big "BUT".
"No, I don't!" said Waddell, before adding with a chuckle, "Maybe if you had asked me that after 10 games, I would have had a different answer."
"No, but especially in the last half dozen games, he's been so good for us. It gives you more confidence that he's the player we all thought he was."
Kotkaniemi is on pace for a 37-point season in 82 games. Not too bad for a player who plays mostly on the fourth unit. Anyway, $6.1 million for Kotkaniemi is a big no-no in my book.
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