MONTREAL — Forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi is now a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, but the Canadiens were quick to announce a potential replacement.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said Saturday the club won't match Carolina's one-year, US$6.1-million offer for the 21-year-old restricted free agent.
"Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision," Bergevin said in a statement.
Montreal received first- and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL draft from the Hurricanes.
In the hour following Kotkaniemi's departure, the Canadiens announced the arrival of forward Christian Dvorak to help replace their young centre.
Montreal acquired the 25-year-old American from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a conditional 2022 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick.
Dvorak has 67 goals and 79 assists in 302 regular season games over five NHL seasons, all with the Coyotes. He had 17 goals and 14 assists in 56 games last season.
Meanwhile the six-foot-two, 201-pound Kotkaniemi, taken third overall by Montreal in the 2018 NHL draft, had five goals and 15 assists in 56 regular-season games last season. He added five goals and three assists in 19 playoff contests.
It was the first successful offer sheet in the NHL since Dustin Penner moved from the Anaheim Ducks to the Edmonton Oilers in 2007.
"Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a player who has been on our radar since before his draft year," Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell said in a statement. "We believe he will flourish in (coach) Rod Brind'Amour's system and culture, and he will be an important piece of what we are building in Carolina for years to come."
Carolina's offer sheet to Kotkaniemi came two years after the Canadiens signed star Hurricanes forward and restricted free agent Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet. Carolina matched it six days later.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 4, 2021.
The Canadian Press