Friedman: Hurricanes unlikely to buy out Kotkaniemi, Canucks may have interest

Photo credit:Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Gould
29 days ago
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated on Friday’s edition of 32 Thoughts – The Podcast that the Carolina Hurricanes are unlikely to buy out struggling forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
The 23-year-old centre managed 12 goals and 27 points in 79 games with the Hurricanes during the regular season before being held to just one point in 11 playoff contests. Even so, a trade appears more likely than a buyout for the former No. 3 overall pick.
If Kotkaniemi does get moved this summer, the Canucks could be one of the teams interested in taking a flier on him, as Friedman suggested on Friday.
“I had someone who bet me a steak dinner, he heard us talking about Kotkaniemi and a buyout, and he said to me, ‘Elliotte, I will bet you a delicious steak dinner that Kotkaniemi does not get bought out,'” Friedman said. “The Hurricanes, as an organization, like him, and he said, ‘You know what, other organizations do, too,’ and the Canucks might be one of them.”
Kotkaniemi just concluded his third season with the Hurricanes since joining the club from the Montreal Canadiens in 2021 by way of a rarely-seen offer sheet. The Hurricanes parted with their first and third-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft to acquire Kotkaniemi from Montreal.
Shortly before the conclusion of his initial one-year deal with the Hurricanes, Kotkaniemi signed an eight-year contract extension worth $4.82 million per season. He has six years remaining on that contract.
As Kotkaniemi is younger than 26, he would only be paid one-third of his remaining contract value if the Hurricanes (or any other team) were to buy him out at any point in the next two offseasons, or during the first buyout window in 2026. A typical buyout results in the player being paid two-thirds of his remaining contract value.
Although Friedman cautioned that such a move is unlikely, a Kotkaniemi buyout this summer would result in the Hurricanes paying him $835,000 for the next 12 seasons, except for 2027-28 to 2029-30, when they would pay him just $455,000.
The Canadiens originally selected Kotkaniemi with the third overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Pori, Finland product has collected 64 goals and 161 points over parts of six NHL seasons with the Canadiens and Hurricanes; he’s added 12 goals and 22 points in 69 playoff contests.
The Canucks have four notable forwards slated to hit unrestricted free agency this summer: Elias Lindholm, Dakota Joshua, Teddy Blueger, and Sam Lafferty. Assuming an $87.7 million salary cap for next season, the Canucks are currently projected to have roughly $23.8 million in space with a 15-man roster.

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