ON TAP: Monday 1:00 PM MDT: USA vs Finland; NHL Network, TSN, RDS — Monday 5:00 PM MDT: Canada vs Switzerland; NHL Network, TSN, RDS — Tuesday 5:30 PM MDT: Gold Medal Game; NHL Network, TSN, RDS
Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 43 days
OH CAPTAIN: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said he is “doing fantastic” in his recovery from a brutal concussion sustained during the playoffs and added that he expects to participate in training camp this September.
THE KING WAS CLOSE: As it turns out, goalie Henrik Lundqvist was only three days away from returning to Washington after open-heart surgery but was permanently sidelined by an infection. It was also revealed that Lundqvist will require another heart surgery in the future. All the best, Hank.
WILD’N OUT: Defenseman Jordie Benn signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with Minnesota, joining the Wild after notching 10 points in 39 games with the Canucks and Jets last season.
TROLL LEVEL – EXPERT: The Hurricanes seemingly trolled the Canadiens by signing forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet. Interestingly enough, the deal carries a signing bonus of $20, which just happens to be Sebastian Aho’s number.
JACKED UP: The Sabres and Jack Eichel met with NHL executives, NHLPA executives, and medical professionals in an effort to help mediate the two sides’ disagreement over how to treat the forward’s herniated disc. Ultimately, no resolution was agreed upon.
DEN-MARK ON HISTORY: For the first time in 75 years, Denmark has qualified for the Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey tournament. The Danes punched their ticket with a 2-0 win over Norway to earn the country’s first Olympic invitation since joining the IIHF in 1946.
The $6.1 Million Middle Finger
This offseason has already seen a new team come to life, a slew of long-term contract signings, and a number of sizable trades, including the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. Now, we have what just might be the funniest transaction in NHL history.
On the surface, the Carolina Hurricanes looking to pry 21-year-old Jesperi Kotkaniemi away from the cap-strapped Montreal Canadiens with a $6.1 million offer sheet makes a lot of sense hockey-wise. However, the fun in the deal comes in its subtext: the last offer sheet tendered in the NHL was in 2019 when the Habs attempted to steal Sebastian Aho away from Carolina with a bonus-heavy five-year, $42 million offer.
While GM Don Waddell and the Hurricanes might genuinely value Kotkaniemi as a player, they aren’t doing much to hide their ulterior motives behind the offer sheet and it didn’t take long for the hockey world to catch on. Here’s a closer look at some of the snide pettiness in play with this move:
A Bonus of…$20???
The Canes’ offer sheet came with a $20 signing bonus, about enough to grab a snack on the plane ride to Raleigh. Not coincidentally, 20 also happens to be Aho’s jersey number. It had been rumored that Habs GM Marc Bergevin crafted a bonus-laden offer sheet to sign Aho based on the belief that Carolina owner Tom Dundon was too cheap to match.
That Sounds Familiar
When putting together a statement announcing the offer sheet, Waddell and the club’s PR team knew where to look to find inspiration. The Hurricanes released a statement that was nearly identical to the one the Canadiens released on behalf of Bergevin when the Aho offer sheet was signed. Coincidence? Not a chance!
Hurricanes Social Media
If there was any lingering doubt over the deliberate, vengeful nature of the offer sheet, Carolina’s social media team put that to rest with a hilarious string of posts about the Kotkaniemi signing. The franchise that has wholly embraced their “bunch of jerks” identity LOL’ed in the official announcement of their offer sheet, announced the move in French to troll the Habs, and even highlighted the $20 bonus detail. Savage.
Now, Montreal has a choice: match the offer, retaining Kotkaniemi at $6.1 million (which would, notably, be his qualifying offer in a year from now), and face cap headaches, or let the potentially disgruntled youngster leave for draft picks. Either way, the Habs face an unenviable decision and Carolina gets the last laugh. Bergevin might want to apologize to Waddell, because if the Canes’ brass doesn’t yet have all the revenge out of their system, Montreal has Nick Suzuki hitting restricted free agency next summer and then Cole Caulfield the year after.
Love—and players—are in the air as the offseason winds down to a dramatic close. We are quickly approaching the most wonderful time of the year, as rookie camp is set to take place two weeks from Wednesday. While some players are returning to their team’s city, others are focused on more personal affairs. Let’s check in…
This is your captain speaking, and I can confirm Sergei Bobrovsky has touched down in South Florida. The goaltender will begin to work out with his Panthers teammates and prepare for the upcoming training camp in the Sunshine State. Unfortunately for Bob, the Panthers turned to rookie Spencer Knight to take over in net during last year’s playoff series against their in-state rival. However, both Knight and Bobrovsky have stated that there is no competition between them heading into this season.
Just Say Yes
Is Toronto the new city of love? A boat ride on Lake Ontario overlooking the Toronto skyline makes an ideal backdrop for a proposal, and it seems Barclay Goodrow agrees. Over the weekend, he was seen down on one knee proposing to his now fiancé Madison Kazarian. After winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Lightning, Goodrow will begin a new chapter as a member of the Rangers. I can’t think of a better way to start his new journey. Congrats to the happy couple!
Chapel of Love
Golden Knights captain Mark Stone tied the knot in Las Vegas on Saturday night, marrying long-time girlfriend Hayley Thompson in an outdoor ceremony. In attendance were current teammates Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore as well as former teammate Erik Haula. Congrats to Vegas’ royal couple.