Hurricanes are hoping to sign winger Jesperi Kotkaniemi on a long-term deal

Last summer, the Carolina Hurricanes became the first team to successfully acquire a player through an offer sheet since the Edmonton Oilers snapped Dustin Penner in 2007. They lost two picks — including a first-round pick in 2022 — to the Montreal Canadiens in compensation for Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who only signed a one-year contract with the Hurricanes.

Kotkaniemi, 21, has 20 points in 42 Carolina games so far but plays just over 12 minutes a night. While that’s certainly not what you’d expect from someone carrying a $6.1 million cap hit, the Hurricanes have always had to pay a premium for the supply sheet to even work.

From the moment the offer sheet was signed, speculation began as to what the Hurricanes might do for Kotkaniemi’s next contract. He will be a restricted free agent after the season ends and is eligible for arbitration. However, to even get that far, the Hurricanes also owe him a qualifying offer equal to his $6.1 million cap hit, which caused much consternation over the summer.

However, before they even get to issuing a qualifying bid, the Hurricanes are working to avoid this issue entirely. In Pierre LeBrun’s latest article for The Athletic, he spoke to general manager Don Waddell, who admitted he had already held preliminary contract talks with Kotkaniemi’s camp. Hopeful for a long-term deal, Carolina spoke to agent Markus Lehto last week.

A long-term extension could potentially fix any overpayment related to Kotkaniemi’s production. Sure he has leverage now with that qualifying offer and arbitration under his belt, but that extra cash could be spread to meet a lower cap, one that will give the young forward time to develop and become a key part of it , what they are. re doing in carolina. It’s unlikely to add a ton of value given Hurricanes’ position, but it will also bring that number down to a more reasonable amount. As Waddell put it, the Hurricanes will “find a solution that makes everyone happy.”

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