The Montreal Canadiens announced Monday that they’ve tendered an offer sheet to restricted free agent Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The proposed contract is for $42.27 million over five years, which equates to an average annual value of $8.454 million.
Since Aho signed the offer sheet, the Hurricanes now have one week to match. The alternative: Carolina could let Aho join Montreal and receive a first-, a second- and a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft as compensation.
This is a rare occurrence, as it marks the first offer sheet in the NHL since the Calgary Flames unsuccessfully tendered an offer sheet to Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly in 2013.
It’s hard to imagine the Hurricanes not matching the offer sheet, though. Aho, who turns 22 this month, has evolved into one of the NHL’s best young players over the past three seasons. The Finnish forward totaled 30 goals and 53 assists for 83 points while playing in all 82 regular-season games in 2018-19.
“We look at Sebastian as our best player. We certainly wanted to keep him long term,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said, according to ESPN.com.
Waddell also reportedly joked: “I know my summer just got better, because I’m not going to be negotiating a contract all summer. We make a decision and move on.”
The Canadiens’ offer sheet is heavily front-loaded, with signing bonuses worth $11.3 million this summer and $9.8 million next summer, according to The Hockey News. That means the Hurricanes will need to dish out more than $21 million in a 12-month span to keep Aho, a sizable chunk of change for a small-market franchise like Carolina.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin faces any backlash for tendering Aho an offer sheet. Signing the offer sheet also opens up Aho to receiving a few awkward glances in Carolina’s locker room should he ultimately remain with the Canes.
The Hurricanes selected Aho in the second round (35th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft. He’s coming off his three-year, entry-level contract with Carolina that carried a cap hit of $925,000.
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