Fresh Start for KK, Armstrong Praises Dvorak | Habs Notepad

Christian Dvorak (Photo by Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | LAVAL, QC. — The Canadiens waited until the final hour before announcing that they would not match the offer sheet signed by Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the Hurricanes. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I feel it was the right one at this point.

As a result, Montreal received Carolina’s first and third round picks in the 2022 entry draft. “Carolina has used a tool available to them in the collective bargaining agreement and we accept that decision,” said Marc Bergevin via a statement. A press conference is scheduled for the general manager on Monday at 1:00pm Eastern Time.

The Hurricanes social media account continued trolling the Canadiens following the announcement. Their Twitter account bio read “undisputed offer sheet champions” and they ran a contest to give away $20 gift cards. The Hurricanes newest acquisition said that he will give his $20 signing bonus to his mother for Christmas.

“We are tying to build our fan base in Raleigh. We’re not as fortunate as Montreal or some other cities that have sold out crowds every night,” said Don Waddell. Carolina’s general manager adding that gimmicks accompanying the offer sheet was an organizational decision from a marketing perspective, and not a shot towards the Canadiens.

“We weren’t making an offer sheet just to make an offer sheet. We wanted to make an offer sheet that we can potentially get the player,” said Waddell and stating that it wasn’t revenge for the Sebastian Aho offer sheet in July 2019.

Waddell discussed trading for Kotkaniemi with Bergevin from Tuesday to Friday, prior to tendering the offer sheet on Saturday August 28th.

Kotkaniemi Moves On

After 171 regular season games and 29 in the playoffs, Kotkaniemi’s tenure with the Canadiens is officially over.

“It is truly hard to say goodbye to Montreal. I have experienced the best years of my life thus far in one of the world’s greatest hockey cities and will always cherish the past three years,” Kotkaniemi posted on his Instagram account.

“At the end, when I think of the whole journey over there, I think it was a good run,” he said. “There are ups and downs every time. I think that’s normal, I made some really good friends over there on the team and off the ice too. I have really good things to say about them,” added the 21-year old when he met the media on Sunday.

There were reports that the Canadiens offered Kotkaniemi a two-year extension worth $2.5-million per season. The Poti native said that there wasn’t a lot of negotiation with Montreal since the team’s elimination at the Stanley Cup Final. Kotkaniemi spoke with Bergevin on the phone about the Canes offer sheet.

“It could’ve been better,” answered Kotkaniemi when asked about his development in the Canadiens organization. With Kotkaniemi no longer with Montreal, Ryan Poehling is the only remaining first round pick drafted between 2006 and 2018 remaining in the organization.

Fresh Start

Kotkaniemi will get a fresh start with the Hurricanes. “I was just really excited when I saw the offer sheet the first time,” Kotkaniemi said Sunday. “Carolina is a great team, they’ll be a [Stanley Cup] contender next year. Everyone wants to be part of a team like that.”

“Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a player who has been on our radar since before his draft year,” Waddell said. The Hurricanes had several interviews with Kotkaniemi in preparation of the 2018 draft, where they selected Andrei Svechnikov second overall.

“We believe he will flourish in (coach) Rod Brind’Amour‘s system and culture, and he will be an important piece of what we are building in Carolina for years to come,” added Waddell. Kotkaniemi is expected to start the season playing left wing, as Carolina is deep down the middle with Aho, Vincent Trocheck and Jordan Staal.

“Feeling the confidence and that the team is trusting you, it’s always good for the player,” said Kotkaniemi. “I felt the confidence from the first second from Carolina, so that feels good. It feels really good when someone is trusting you.”

Contrary to the earlier reports, Waddell said that there has been no talks with his latest acquisition about a long term contract. The general manager stated that he would like to see how things play out before discussing a long term agreement. The earliest that an extension can be signed is on January 1st, 2022.

Dvorak Acquisition

One hour following the Kotkaniemi announcement, the Canadiens concluded a trade with the Coyotes to acquire Christian Dvorak. In return, Coyotes obtain:

  • the better of Montreal’s own 1st round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft or Carolina’s 1st round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft (acquired by Montreal from Carolina.)
  • Montreal’s own 2nd round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

If you thought it’s complicated, there’s more. In the event that either or both of Montreal’s own 1st round pick and/or Carolina’s 1st round pick are in the top 10 in the 2022 NHL Draft, then the Canadiens will instead transfer to Coyotes, the worse of:

  • Montreal’s own pick or Carolina’s pick (previously acquired by Montreal)
  • Montreal’s own 2nd round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

Dvorak has four years remaining on his contract that has an annual cap hit of $4.45-million. In 56 games with Arizona last season, Dvorak scored 17 goals, and added 14 assists. He will meet the media on Monday at 1:30pm eastern time.

Two-Way Center

The scouting report on Dvorak is that he’s a two-way center that can be used in a shutdown role. Dvorak led the Coyotes forwards in ice time last season, averaging 18:24 per game. The coaching staff had Dvorak on the power play and penalty kill units. Eight of Dvorak’s 17 goals were scored during a power play.

Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said on Saturday that he started discussing with Bergevin at the draft about a deal involving Dvorak. The Canadiens general manager was preparing for the imminent departure of Phillip Danault. Dvorak will help fill the void that Danault’s departure will have with faceoff responsibilities. In 2020-21, Dvorak won 52.1 percent of his draws.

There were several teams that were interested in acquiring the 25-year old. “Christian had a lot of value,” Armstrong said, “not only for our club but also on the open market because centers, this year, seem to be hard to find. So, we tried to maximize that.”

Dvorak is leaving the Coyotes organization on good terms. “First off, I want to say what a classy person (Dvorak) is,” Armstrong said, “not only on the ice, but off the ice, and how he handled the (trade) news when I told him.”

Dvorak arrived in Arizona two days prior to the trade to sign off on a purchase of a home. “He handled everything with 100 percent class. As an organization, we wish him the best. He’s given everything. He was the first on the ice and last off, always around here training during the summer. He really helped this organization grow,” added Armstrong.

Canadiens Connection podcast

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And this week we have a BONUS episode of the Canadiens Connection podcast for you with supplementary discussion to episode 153!

By Chris G., Senior Writer
All Habs Hockey Magazine
Copyright © 2021 Rocket Sports

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