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Hurricanes' Sebastian Aho gives his take on offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Chip Alexander, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Hockey

Kotkaniemi, who was a restricted free agent, signed for a one-year, $6.1 million contract that includes a $20 bonus — 20 being Aho's jersey number and a bonus, Aho quipped Tuesday, he was willing to pay "if it comes to that."

In Aho's case, his 2019 offer sheet was for a five-year contract with an $8.454 million annual cap hit, with millions of dollars in front-loaded bonus money.

In both cases, the players had to sign the offer sheets. With that comes the risk that should the offer sheet not be matched, the player could change teams.

"Everyone knows when you signed that contract what can possibly happen," Aho said. "To me, I always wanted to stay."

Aho stayed with the Canes. Kotkaniemi, who has yet to get to Raleigh, will be with a new team and wearing a new number, No. 82.

Aho said with the seven-hour time difference in Finland, he was asleep soon after his offer sheet was announced, unaware of the drama being played out in Raleigh while Canes fans were fretting they might lose a star center and questioning why Aho had signed an offer sheet from Montreal. The next morning, Canes owner Tom Dundon said the Canes would match. Drama over.

Not so for Kotkaniemi.

"I guess it's a long week not knowing exactly what's going to happen," Aho said. "I was pretty confident with Carolina. Tom (Dundon) told me and the whole world that he's going to match right away, so I guess it wasn't too bad for me."

 

While Kotkaniemi is a newcomer to the Canes, there are others. Aho was on the ice Tuesday with defensemen Ethan Bear and Tony DeAngelo, Josh Leivo and Brendan Smith.

"A lot of the new faces but there's still a lot of the same, more familiar faces," Aho said.

No longer will there be defenseman Dougie Hamilton on the back end, looking to push the pace, get off shots and be a big part of the offense. Hamilton signed as a free agent with New Jersey, leaving Carolina for a big contract.

"It is all part of the business and I think we all knew there was a chance that he might not be here this year," Aho said.

Aho will be entering his sixth NHL season and has been a vital part of the franchise resurgence, with playoff appearances the past three years. One preseason ranking has him No. 21 among NHL players, as if he pays much attention to such things, to the outside noise.

He just doesn't want to be mad, again, when the season ends.

(c)2021 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.