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It has been a while since we’ve seen an offer sheet but the Habs have changed this.  They announced that Sebastian Aho has signed a five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet.  Carolina has seven days to match.

The breakdown of the offer, according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic, is as follows:

2019-20: $11.3M signing bonus, $700K salary
2020-21: $9.87M signing bonus, $700K salary
2021-22: $6.95M signing bonus, $750K salary
2022-23: $5.25M signing bonus, $750K salary
2023-24: $5.25M signing bonus, $750K salary

The structure is notable as Aho will be owed more than $21 million over the first 12 months of the deal.  For a cash-limited team like Carolina, that’s notable.

However, at the compensation level of the deal, it would be hard to not match from Carolina’s perspective.  If they didn’t, Montreal would only part with a first, second, and third-round pick which wouldn’t represent a significant return for Aho’s services.  Earlier today, it was believed that they were telling teams that they’d match any offer but Montreal is putting that theory to the test.  It’s also at least worth noting that Carolina would be blocked from trading Aho for a year if they match.

There’s no denying that Aho would be a great addition to the Habs.  He’s a legitimate top line player and is coming off of a career year that saw him collect 30 goals and 53 assists in 82 games in the regular season while averaging over 20 minutes a night.  He also led them in scoring in the playoffs with 12 points in 15 games.

Aho would instantly become Montreal’s top forward in the event Carolina doesn’t match.  That said, if they do match, there will be plenty of discussion as to whether or not they should have gone a level higher (two firsts, a second, and a third) to make it much more difficult for the Hurricanes.

This contract will take Aho to free agency at the age of 26 as it only buys out one year of UFA eligibility.  So while he’s going to cash in on this contract, he has set himself up nicely for an even bigger payday in the prime of his career.  The offer does not contain any trade protection as by rule, it cannot.

In the meantime, the Habs can’t sign another player to an offer sheet as the draft picks used here are encumbered by the league.  However, the Habs still have cap room to work with so if Montreal thinks it’s going to be matched (and indications from Carolina GM Don Waddell is that they will), they can still shift gears and go after someone else in unrestricted free agency.