Toronto Star

Canadiens: Canes’ offer sheet tactics ‘bizarre’, Toffoli says


Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli admitted he did a double take when the Carolina Hurricanes signed restricted free agent Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1-million (U.S.) offer sheet.

The Canadiens didn’t match the offer, settling for first- and third-round draft picks next year.

“I just thought the whole thing was bizarre,” the 29-year-old Toffoli said this week. “The whole situation was weird.”

Offer sheets for restricted free agents don’t happen that often, though the Canadiens presented one to Carolina’s Sebastian Aho two years ago. The Hurricanes matched that offer, and didn’t forget about it.

Carolina’s initial announceme­nt of the move for Kotkaniemi was posted in French on Twitter, and the team attributed the same quote from Montreal GM Marc Bergevin when he attempted to sign Aho to Hurricanes counterpar­t Don Waddell.

The trolling continued with Kotkaniemi receiving a signing bonus of $20 to match Aho’s jersey number, while the $15 tacked on the end of the $6.1million agreement represente­d the digits the Finn sported on his back in Montreal.

Toffoli gave the Hurricanes credit for at least one thing — making a splash.

“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.”

The Canadiens moved quickly to replace Kotkaniemi by acquiring 25-year-old centre Christian Dvorak from the Arizona Coyotes for two draft picks.

“(Bergevin) made a great move with adding Dvorak,” Toffoli said.

“I always thought he was hard to play against when I was with L.A.

“Excited to see what he’s gonna bring.”

Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki, 22, thought he and the 21-yearold Kotkaniemi would be mainstays in Montreal for a decade or more.

“How the business works, I guess,” Suzuki said. “I was happy for him. Tough offer to turn down, obviously. But tough seeing him go, (we) wish him the best.

“It’ll be fun to play against him.”

Carolina will make its first visit to the Bell Centre on Oct. 21.

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