Grateful to get out of Montreal, Kotkaniemi talks smack about Habs and Quebec media
The Hockey News  

Grateful to get out of Montreal, Kotkaniemi talks smack about Habs and Quebec media

The Habs' former 3rd overall pick went off!



On August 28th, 2021 Jesperi Kotkaniemi became the first player in nearly 15 years to be successfully acquired via contract offer-sheet. Kotkaniemi, of course, was an unsigned member of the Montreal Canadiens when he was signed to a one year, $6.1 million contract by the Carolina Hurricanes in retaliation for the Canadien's attempt to sign Sebastian Aho to an RFA offersheet two years prior. 

Since then, Kotkaniemi has established himself as a regular, everyday NHLer and has since signed an eight year contract extension worth $4.82 million per season. The 22 year old forward has broken out this season with 15 goals and 37 points in 76 games with the Hurricanes and, it's clear that he still has some strong feelings about the way that things played out for him in Montreal.

In a column for The Hockey News today, Kotkaniemi reflected on his time in Montreal, spoke about the relentless media and openly admitted that things are much better for him and a more relaxed, laid back market like Carolina.

Some quotes:

“The media is really big in Montreal, and it can get in your head really fast if you read all that stuff,” Kotkaniemi said.

“Here in Carolina, the life is so much easier. You don’t really stress about anything. Great teammates. Great staff. The media is not bad. It’s really a stress-free life here.”

There’s a widespread belief among NHL personnel that Montreal botched Kotkaneimi’s development by placing him in the NHL too quickly. Even Kotkaniemi said that, in hindsight, he probably would have been better off returning to Finland instead of playing in the NHL just a few months after being drafted third overall. Perhaps things would have turned out differently.

“I probably would have had a better answer for you a couple of years ago,” Kotkaniemi said. “I probably would have said something dumb.”

Lately, Kotkaniemi has been playing some of the best hockey of his career.

“I’m kind of starting to find my way in this league,” Kotkaniemi said.

- Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Again, the 22 year old still has a long way to go in fulfilling the promise he showed as a former 3rd overall pick, but the Hurricanes have played the slow game with him and clearly it's working.

Source: The Hockey News