KK most likely played his last game in a Montreal Canadiens uniform

Published August 28, 2021 at 9:23 PM

A real bombshell hit the Montreal Canadiens organization a few hours ago, as the Carolina Hurricanes announced that they had submitted an offer sheet to young Jesperi Kotkaniemi. This offer of a duration of one year with a salary of $6.1 million dollars, strongly seems like a revenge on the part of the Hurricanes towards the Montreal Canadiens, after the Sebastian Aho saga, which had taken place in July 2019.

Considering the fact that the Habs have less than $6.1 million in salary cap space, most experts agree that Marc Bergevin should NOT match the Hurricanes' offer, especially since Kotkaniemi has yet to prove that he deserves such a large salary. With personal bests of only 11 goals and 34 points in his career, KK may have the potential, but he is still far from the standards that are demanded for such a salary.

Furthermore, Marc Bergevin just let Quebec center Phillip Danault go to Los Angeles because he didn't want to pay him $5.5 million a year. Danault is an established center in the National Hockey League, having helped neutralize offensive stars like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Mark Stone during the Habs' last playoff run. For all these reasons, it would be very surprising if the Habs' general manager gave Kotkaniemi an even bigger salary.

Still, the loss of the young Finn could be catastrophic for the Habs. The team's center line already looked poor with the departure of Danault, so imagine how weakened it would be if Jesperi Kotkaniemi were to leave the organization as well. While young Ryan Poehling is seen as a potential wild card for the upcoming season, it would be very risky to bet on a player with so little experience to fill a full-time position on the team's top-6. As for Jake Evans and Cedric Paquette, although they are capable of providing valuable services in various facets of the game, their offensive potential is far too limited for either of them to be able to fill the second center position behind Nick Suzuki.

This leaves Marc Bergevin with two more or less credible options. First, although it seems highly unlikely, he could risk moving one or two players from his team to make room on his payroll and thus match the Canes' offer. Secondly, Bergevin could let his young center go to Carolina, so that he can reinvest the compensation that will be given by the Hurricanes (their first and third round picks in the next draft) to go get a replacement for KK.

In short, what do you think? What decision will Marc Bergevin make by next Saturday?
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