While it should come as no surprise, the Hurricanes put an end to any suspense when they announced on Tuesday that they will match the five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet that the Habs tendered to Sebastian Aho.
Montreal’s offer sheet was heavily front loaded with maximum signing bonuses in an effort to dissuade Carolina from matching but it was hard to think they’d consider parting with their franchise player for just a first, second, and third-round draft pick which was the required compensation for an offer at that level. The Hurricanes will now take on the exact contract, meaning they will be responsible for paying basically half the total value of the deal over the next 12 months. They will also be restricted from trading him for one year.
It’s worth noting that while they’ve announced their intention to match, they could still wait a little while to file the paperwork with the league. They have until next Monday to do so and the draft picks are encumbered by the league until the offer is formally matched. Accordingly, if GM Marc Bergevin has ideas on trying another offer sheet (and there are a lot of notable RFAs this summer), he’ll have to wait until the matching is made official so if the Hurricanes want, they can make him wait a few more days to get that opportunity again.
If nothing else, Bergevin now knows that he needs to turn to another option. They freed up considerable salary cap space over the weekend with an eye on getting Aho but now that this won’t happen, it will be interesting to see if they jump back into the UFA waters. Wingers Micheal Ferland, Ryan Dzingel, Marcus Johansson, and Derick Brassard are among the notable forwards still available while Jake Gardiner and Ben Hutton highlight the blueliners that could still be added to the left side of Montreal’s back end.