Montreal Canadiens players sound off on Carolina poaching Jesperi Kotkaniemi with offer-sheet

Take a look at what the former teammate of Jesperi Kotkaniemi had to say about this summer's offer-sheet saga.


The Carolina Hurricanes made headlines last month when they officially tendered an offer sheet to Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, a reported one-year deal worth $6.1 million. The move appears to many as a clear case of revenge on Carolina's part for Montreal's past offer sheet offer to Sebastien Aho; the Hurricanes didn't do anything to dispel those rumors after they promised Kotkaniemi a $20 signing bonus, the same sweater number Aho wears. 

Needless to say, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin had a tough decision on his hands - either match the offer, or allow Kotkaniemi to walk and receive draft capital as compensation. He chose the latter, and Kotkaniemi is officially a member of the Hurricanes. 

It certainly was an odd situation for everyone involved, and you can bet that Kotkaniemi's former Habs teammates were watching closely as everything unfolded as well. Tyler Toffoli, a hero of Montreal's surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final, described the situation in blunt terms. 

"I just thought the whole thing was bizarre," the Habs forward explained during the Canadian leg of the NHL/NHLPA media tour. "The whole situation was weird."

Toffoli, who enjoyed a productive first season with Montreal by scoring 28 goals and 44 points after signing a four-year, $17-million contract in free agency prior to last season, acknowledged that it was simply an offer his former teammate couldn't refuse. 

"It is what it is ... you're not going to turn down $6 million," he said. "It's unfortunate, but we have to move forward."

Of course, it was a positive aspect for the game of hockey overall, as it caught the attention of even the most casual of fans. 

"It got noticed by people who don't (follow) hockey," he said. "It's building the game.

"Everybody was talking about hockey for a week."

Center Nick Suzuki lamented the fact that he and Kotkaniemi no longer have the chance of being teammates in Montreal for the long term, but knows that it was simply part of the business that is the National Hockey League. 

"How the business works, I guess," he said. "There's so many moving parts in the league, it's tough to keep everyone together for a long period."

"The offer sheet's part of the business."