Did Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell get forced into the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer sheet and is the NHL Trade market about to pick up?
The Montreal Canadiens announced early Saturday evening that they will not match the $6.1 million offer sheet (and $20 signing bonus) that Jesperi Kotkaniemi accepted from the Carolina Hurricanes a week ago. The Habs will now receive the Hurricanes’ first and third round draft picks in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
“Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a press release Saturday.
An NHL executive source has confirmed to Boston Hockey Now and National Hockey Now that Dundon “basically ordered” Waddell to make the offer sheet to the 2018 third overall draft pick.
“This was pure ego pleasure by an owner who has no idea what he’s doing,” the source said. “Take a look at what they have coming up to sign. Dundon royally f…ked Waddell here. This is what happens when an owner doesn’t understand how to run a team and doesn’t let the hockey people do their jobs.”
This NHL exec is referring to the fact that the Canes will now have to sign the 21-year-old Kotkaniemi and center Martin Necas, who will both be restricted free agents after this season, as well as winger Nino Niederreiter and center Vincent Trochek, who will both be unrestricted free agents next offseason. The Hurricanes now have no cap space as the 2021-22 NHL regular season approaches.
“There was clearly no big picture vision here and just tunnel vision from an oversized ego.,” the source went on. “This is why the rest of the league is laughing at Dunbdon right now and why Bergevin looks better getting Dvorak for a lesser hit.”
Dvorak carries a $4.4 million cap hit for the next four seasons. The Habs, however, will still need to clear at least $5.9 million to become cap compliant before the season begins.
Will NHL Trade Market Open Up?
As predicted here Tuesday and based on recent NHL trade and free agent chatter, the floodgates finally opened again this week. There were 12 signings from Wednesday until Friday, and then another on Friday. Five restricted free agents signed; four unrestricted free agents signed, and three professional tryouts and two players signed extensions in the last three days. So now what?
Tuesday: @MurphysLaw74 said hang on, the moves would start by the weekend.
Wednesday: The Islanders “sign” four, Parayko gets PAID, JJ to CO, and Sheahan to Seattle.
Hey Jimmy, how’s the forecast for the rest of the weekend?
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) September 2, 2021
Well, after that flurry of free agent signings, extensions, PTO’s and an offer sheet not matched, the NHL trade market picked right up. Within an hour of the Habs announcing they hadn’t matched the Kotkaniemi, they went out and acquired center Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Hurricanes in exchange for “the better of Montreal’s own 1st round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and Carolina’s 1st round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft (previously acquired by Montreal); and ii) Montreal’s own 2nd round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.
However, in the event that either or both of Montreal’s own 1st round pick and/or Carolina’s 1st round pick are Top 10 picks in the 2022 NHL Draft (after the final draft order has been established in accordance with the results of the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery), then Montreal will instead transfer to Arizona: i) the worse of Montreal’s own pick and Carolina’s pick (previously acquired by Montreal), and ii) Montreal’s own 2nd round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.
We heard plenty of chatter over the last two weeks, that Dvorak could be headed to the Habs (and the Bruins for that matter), and even more so when the Canes dropped the offer sheet on Kotkaniemi on August 27. But there’s also been another name that’s been gaining traction as of late but this may be just a table setting for an NHL trade later down the line or at the 2022 NHL trade deadline.
So will all that NHL trade chatter come to fruition now, just as the chatter surrounding UFA and RFA signings, and PTO’s did? No matter what, there’s one rumor that we will continue to follow.
If we said to you right after this classic moment in the Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens rivalry, that then-Montreal Canadiens defenseman and then-reigning Norris Trophy winner PK Subban would be plucked off the NHL trade market by the Bruins someday, you would probably have thought we were looking for cannabis dispensaries that didn’t exist back then.
Multiple NHL sources have confirmed to BHN and NHN that the Boston Bruins, on more than one occasion, have explored what it would take to acquire Subban and at the same time convince the New Jersey Devils to eat at least half of the $9 million cap hit he carries in the final season of his current contract. The Toronto Maple Leafs have also expressed ‘more than lukewarm interest’ in the 2013 Norris Trophy Winner.
Interestingly enough, when asked whether they’d be OK with the Bruins acquiring a longtime nemesis like Subban, Bruins fans had a very mixed reaction. The common themes from the nays on a Subban to the Bruins trade was that he’s ‘damaged’ goods and his cap hit is too high but one NHL source countered that very valid assumption with this on New Jersey Devils defenseman:
“Of course no team is doing that trade unless ‘Fitz’ [Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald], eats at last half of that cap hit like you said,” the source told BHN. “With the Bruins, they would obviously need to move more cap space out even to afford that but it really makes a ton of sense for them at the right price. You’re getting a motivated player that want to prove he’s still got game heading into free agency next summer. PK lives for the spotlight and big games as we know and there will be way more of that in Boston than New Jersey. Still can work a powerplay too.”
That last point could be very valuable for a Bruins team that still isn’t sure that defenseman Matt Grzelcyk is the man to do that. With Subban, the Bruins or any team that acquires him will have a proven powerplay anchor. Imagine a Bruins powerplay led by Subban lighting up a Habs penalty kill at the Bell Centre? Knowing what this scribe knows of Subban, he’d be drooling over such an opportunity. The gut here is that any trade with Subban won’t happen until later in the season or at the NHL Trade deadline because teams will want to get a solid pro-rated cap hit on top of the Devils eating some of it, but it’s worth watching now because as we know, injuries happen in training camp and the preseason nd teams change their plans.