Carolina Hurricanes finalize eight-year extension with 21-year-old Jesperi Kotkaniemi expecting forward to ‘continue to develop his game’



RALEIGH, NC — The Carolina Hurricanes, chasing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and aiming for a Stanley Cup this season, took a well-planned step on Monday to ensure their future after this season as well.

The Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes have signed forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an eight-year extension, which would keep the 21-year-old forward with the franchise through the 2029-30 season.

The team said the deal will have an average annual value of $4.82 million. Carolina announced the deal the same day the Hurricanes acquired forward Max Domi and defenseman Tyler Inamoto in a three-team deal before the trade deadline.

The story behind the Hurricanes and Kotkaniemi is not a typical transaction in NHL parlance. They acquired Kotkaniemi in September, signing him as a restricted free agent for a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet. The Montreal Canadiens, who selected the former No. 3 draft pick in 2018, opted not to match the deal in the league’s first successful offer sheet acquisition since 2007.

It was a response to Montreal trying to poach Carolina’s Sebastian Aho in the same way in 2019, despite the Hurricanes matching the five-year offer sheet to keep him. But team president and general manager Don Waddell said the team wanted to agree a long-term deal with a player the team believes has good upside.

“We’re all confident that he’s going to continue to develop his game, continue to learn and do more numbers than what he’s doing now,” Waddell said.

The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Kotkaniemi doesn’t play many minutes on a charged offense. He usually takes the ice with the fourth line. He has 11 goals and 23 points. He averages just 12 minutes on the ice, but coach Rod Brind’Amour has said several times throughout the season that it’s all part of his development plan.

The Hurricanes are chasing the Florida Panthers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Had the season ended Sunday night, they would have finished second overall and had a first-round date with the Boston Bruins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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