In case you missed it, the Montreal Canadiens have signed Carolina Hurricanes star Sebastiea Aho to a five year offsheet worth over $8 million per season.
Of course, because Aho is a restricted free agent (RFA) the Hurricanes can either match the Habs’ offer to Aho or they can elect to walk away from the deal. If they go this route, they’ll receive a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round pick from the Habs as compensation. The Hurricanes have a week to match the offer.
It’s worth noting as well that the deal signed by Aho is MASSIVELY front loaded with $21 million due in bonuses during the first year of the five year agreement. This seems to be an obvious strategic ploy by Bergevin to hamstring the… shall we say financially strained Hurricanes front office.
But, all signs coming out of the Hurricanes camp seem to indicate that Aho’s deal will be matched and he’ll stay with the team on this new five year deal.
Check out some of the quotes below from Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell:
“I’m actually surprised it wasn’t more,” Waddell quipped about the average annual value of $8.454 million. “We’re just reviewing it. We haven’t had time to really bring everybody in the inner circle in to talk about it.”
It’s also worth noting that in the week the Hurricanes have to make their decision, the Canadiens are prohibited from making ANY other transactions. In effect they’re handcuffed until Waddell and the Hurricanes make their decision… just don’t hold your breath, Habs fans…
“Maybe I don’t want to help them right now,” Waddell smiled.
Furthermore, check out these quotes taken directly from the Hurricanes’ own website:
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin would lead you to believe that Aho signing the offer sheet indicates his desire to play in a different city for a different team, though that’s not exactly the case. Rather, Aho agreed to the terms of the contract - not the team - and, in a shrewd tactic, assumed some negotiating leverage when, as a restricted free agent, he otherwise didn’t have much at all.
Ultimately, the AAV of the offer is in the neighborhood of what the Hurricanes and Aho likely would have settled at anyway. For the Canes, the disappointing aspect is the term of the offer; with a five-year contract, Aho could become an unrestricted free agent at age 26, so the Canes understandably were pursuing a longer term of eight years.
Now, we wait.
But there shouldn’t be much suspense in what will happen next.
Does that sound like a team who plans on walking away from Aho?