Hockey

Play Profile: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

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With the Carolina Hurricanes acquiring Jesperi Kotkaniemi on an offer sheet after Montreal declined the chance to match the offer, a lot of fans are wondering what this player can do. Kotkaniemi really moved up from his previous contract, with a one-year $6.1 million deal, that sees him becoming an unrestricted free agent should he not sign a new contract with the Hurricanes. Following are my thoughts on the impact that this player may have on the Hurricanes team going forward.

While many view the deal to acquire Kotkaniemi as revenge for the offer sheet presented to Sebastian Aho, GM Don Waddell has stated that it is simply to acquire a potentially great player, who the team had their eyes on for a while. While the team “had some fun” when creating the offer for Kotkaniemi, they still have a clear stance that this deal was about the player and nothing more.

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What to Expect from Kotkaniemi with the Hurricanes

Kotkaniemi was drafted third overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2018 and has played in the NHL since the 2018-19 season. So far, the player has yet to fully live up to his potential, and as such had been brought to Carolina with the idea he could flourish under Rod Brind’Amour‘s supervision, and truly start to perform up to his potential.

Many have speculated that Kotkaniemi was rushed into the NHL too fast and that playing him at center made the pressure too great and may have stunted his growth. For this reason, it is likely that Kotkaniemi will play on the wing for his first stretch with the Hurricanes even with the possibility of an all Finnish line being put in play.

Playing with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen would see the points roll in for Kotkaniemi as he would be playing alongside two of the top performers in the Hurricanes organization, and really ease the pressure off of the young player and allow him to come into his own. This could lead to some amazing plays and hopefully spectacular goals.

The worst-case scenario is that Kotkaniemi only manages another season at approximately 25 points and continues to need more time to grow into the NHL, but overall this player has the opportunity for a real breakout season. The veteran coach of Brind’Amour will look to see what line will have the best chances for the young talent and gives the best chemistry.

What Does This Mean for the Hurricanes Offense?

The Hurricanes gain some offensive depth with the acquisition of Kotkaniemi, as well as the pick that came just after the second overall pick of the draft Andrei Svechnikov, which could see some spectacular plays across more of the Hurricanes lines, and inject more youth into an aging roster.

The acquisition also gives Brind’Amour some choices in his line combinations as the team moves forward and looks to go deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The veteran players of the team, such as captain Jordan Staal, and seasoned players Nino Niederreiter and Jordan Martinook will look to groom the young player into the solid form that the players exemplified throughout their careers.

Overall, the deal doesn’t seem too bad for the Hurricanes, as they lost a first and a third in exchange for a player with a lot of potential, who likely would have cost them a lot more if they had to trade for him by conventional means. As such, people are right to expect some overall strong performances from the player, especially when being put on lines with some top players. At only 21-years-old, Jesperi Kotkaniemi has plenty of room to grow into a superstar at the NHL level.

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