(UPDATE: The Hurricanes will be matching the offer sheet for Aho.)
For the first time in six years an NHL team has tendered an offer sheet to a restricted free agent.
The Montreal Canadiens announced on Monday that they have tendered a five-year contract to Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho that would carry a salary cap hit of $8.45 million per season.
General manager Marc Bergevin said that Aho has accepted the team’s offer and wants to be a part of the Canadiens.
”Sebastian Aho accepted our offer,” said Bergevin. “He wants to come to Montreal. He sees our youngsters coming up in the organization and he wants to be a part of that. We’re proud, but there’s still a waiting period.”
The Hurricanes have one week to match the offer.
If they do not match it they will receive one first-round pick, one second-round pick, and one third-round pick as compensation.
According to Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the contract is structured in a way so that Aho’s base salary would be between $700,000-$750,000 per season, with the rest of the money coming in the form of bonuses.
That includes approximately $21 million in bonuses in the first 12 months of the contract.
“When you make an offer like that, we saw a vulnerable position,” said Bergevin. “The offer, with the compensation and the youngsters we have, we realized that it was the best chance we had to get the player.”
[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]
The total dollar amount in the contract shouldn’t be an issue for the Hurricanes to match, and it’s kind of surprising that the Canadiens went so low on the dollar amount if they were committed to tendering an offer sheet. If anything keeps the Hurricanes from matching the contract — and that is a big if — it might be the amount of money to be paid up front. Even then, that should not prohibit them from matching an offer for their franchise player, and if anything, it will probably just save them the trouble of having to go through an extended negotiation. The hard work should be done for them.
“I know my summer just got better,” reacted Hurricanes GM Don Waddell, who added he was surprised the offer wasn’t bigger. “I won’t have to spend all summer negotiating a contract. So we’ll make a decision on it and move on.”
Aho just completed his third season in the NHL and has shown consistent improvement every season. The 21-year-old scored 30 goals and added 53 assists this past season and was a major part of the Hurricanes unexpected run to the Eastern Conference Final.
This is the first offer sheet signed since Ryan O'Reilly was tendered one by the Calgary Flames in February of 2013 when he was involved in a contract dispute with the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche matched that offer.
The last time a restricted free agent changed teams on an offer sheet was when Dustin Penner went from the Anaheim Ducks to the Edmonton Oilers during the 2007 offseason. That was the second offer sheet the Oilers signed that summer after the Buffalo Sabres matched their offer for Thomas Vanek.
Related: PHT Time Machine: Offer sheet history
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.