• July 3, 2019 Canes will match offer sheet to Aho, owner Tom Dundon says By Chip Alexander The Carolina Hurricanes will match the offer sheet made Monday to star center Sebastian Aho by the Montreal Canadiens, Canes owner Tom Dundon said Tuesday. Of his reaction to the offer sheet, Dundon, said, “We’re surprised. We love the player and we’re happy to have this done. And surprised someone would have thought this would work. “We were never going to let him go. He didn’t want to go. This is just part of the business of getting the deal done. I said the day I bought the team and nothing has changed, he’s one of if not the most important part of our future and we’re lucky to have him.” Aho, 21, set career highs last season with 30 goals and 83 points as the Canes returned to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2009. Waddell and Aho’s agent, Gerry Johannson, had been negotiating a new contract in which the Canes hoped to sign the Finnish forward to an eight-year deal. The figures in the Canadiens’ offer sheet -- $8.454 million a year for five years -- did not cause gnashing of teeth among Canes management, even with a front-loaded bonus of more than $21 million to be paid in the first 12 months. Dundon, a Dallas billionaire, called an offer sheet a “waste of time” and no one should question the Canes’ or his ability to make such a large payment, noting, “I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am. This sounds terrible but writing that check is no big deal.” Canes general manager Don Waddell said Tuesday an eightyear deal could have given Aho more guaranteed money than the $42.77 million total in the offer sheet. The $8.454 million per-year price tag is believed to be higher than the Canes had offered in negotiations.

It is what it is, right?” Dundon said. “Our job is to allocate the (salary cap) properly and we should be able to do it just fine. (Waddell) said we would have liked more term. That’s the main difference, where it would have ended up if there had not been an offer sheet. “I’m relieved this is done and Sebastian doesn’t have to worry about this anymore. It’s nice to have it done. It’s probably not the way we’d like to have it done.” Waddell said Monday he was surprised the figures weren’t higher while Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin was saying he had spoken to Aho and how much the 21-year-old Finn, who signed the offer sheet, wanted to be a Canadien.

Dundon on Tuesday disputed that notion, saying, “I think the other team got manipulated into believing something that might not have been true.” “There’s no scenario where Sebastian Aho doesn’t want to be on the Hurricanes,” Dundon said. “It is in his right to use that leverage the (collective bargaining agreement) provides to get the most money from us and that’s all that happened. I have not heard Sebastian say that. If he said that it would be different but he didn’t. So the fact that an agent said it means that there’s no credibility to it.” The Canes have a week to match the offer sheet but Waddell said no decision had been made on when that official notice would be sent.

It obviously will be in the time frame allotted by the CBA,” he said. Of note: the Canes open their season Oct. 3 against the Montreal Canadiens at PNC Arena.

  • July 3, 2019 Of course the Hurricanes are matching the weak Sebastian Aho offer sheet, but how did it get to this point? By Sara Civian Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon wears many other hats: billionaire businessman, reluctantly championed “disrupter” of Hockey Men, the dude who ended (or perhaps tried to save) the AAF, owner of TopGolf. He was actually golfing in Aspen, Colo., when the Canadiens offer sheeted Sebastian Aho on Monday, and folks had a lot to say about that.

He’s explained before that a fine line of his job, whether it’s owning a sports team or a company, is listening to feedback without letting a vocal minority sway you. But that was a conversation about hockey sweaters. The topic of the day was his young star player. He has indicated to The Athleticmultiple times over a span of months that he and the Hurricanes would be making a serious investment to keep their second-round pick turned first-line center in Raleigh. He and general manager Don Waddell had publicly expressed dozens of times that they would not let Aho go.

Maybe that’s why Waddell walked into a press conference with a knowing grin 20 minutes after the offer sheet landed in his inbox.

Maybe that’s why team executives cheered when they found out the contract, front-loaded as it is, only carries an $8.454 AAV over five years. “I don’t think it is easy for Carolina,” Aho’s agent Gerry Johannson told The Athletic’s Marc Antoine Godin on Monday night. “I can tell you for sure, it’s not easy for Carolina. Anybody who says this is easy is wrong.” The Hurricanes announced less than 24 hours later that they will indeed match the offer sheet.

Maybe Dundon was out golfing because $21 million in two years is not a fortune in the scheme of billions, maybe it’s an investment the Hurricanes were always willing to make and then some. Maybe he just doesn’t care what you think. “The question is, do you think you should believe an agent?” Dundon bluntly stated in a conference call Tuesday. “That’s a question, you guys can figure that out ... but it is his right to use that leverage the CBA provides to get the most money out of us and that is all that happened.” If it wasn’t “easy,” it doesn’t sound like the hardest thing he’s ever done.

First of all I’m just relieved and that Sebastian is not going to have to worry about this anymore,” Dundon told reporters.

I think the other team got manipulated into believing some things that might not have been true. But the fact that you’re asking this question — if $20 million dollars is a lot for me or the Hurricanes? — maybe that leads to this situation. It’s not a concern. This sounds terrible but writing that check is no big deal.” “The numbers weren’t that far off from where we were,” Waddell offered. “I think the agent felt that he wasn’t making progress he wanted to make and he was going to go out and sell that we weren’t in a position to match it. The offer sheet didn’t have anything in it that would make the team think twice about it.” This situation is bound to take a few more interesting twist and turns.

As it stands, it looks like a savvy (albeit unconventional) agent and misconceptions about Dundon and the Hurricanes market led the Canadiens to believe that they either couldn’t or wouldn’t match a relatively low offer sheet ask. “Instead of negotiating a contract like most agents and teams do, he felt that he would take the course of getting the team to sell a team an idea that he knew wouldn’t work,” Waddell said. “We said all along we would match any offer. The agent knew that. I think the world knew that.” But if they were so gung-ho about matching a potential offer sheet, why didn’t they just pay their star player in the first place?

When we were talking with (Aho’s camp) we were always talking about a long-term deal,” Waddell said. “If we were negotiating on our own behalf we would’ve went for more years for sure. The five years is shorter than what we wanted. For seven or eight years, the amount of money we would offer is a lot more money than what the offer sheet is. The player has to be comfortable that he takes the five years and hope everything is still going well. That’s the only part that I don’t really understand — there was a lot more money available to the player at this point.” Three possible explanations: 1.

Aho’s camp wanted to pick up the pace on a deal. 2. The signing bonuses. The deal is so front-loaded because it’s mostly signing bonuses.

Year 1: $11.3 million signing bonus, $700,000 salary Year 2: $9.87 million signing bonus, $700,000 salary Year 3: $6.95 million signing bonus, $750,000 salary Years 4 and 5: $5.25 million signing bonus, $750,000 salary The Hurricanes traditionally avoid giving out summer signing bonuses. According to CapFriendly, the only players on the projected Hurricanes roster with summer signing bonuses are Aho, players on ELCs and recently acquired James Reimer. Signing bonuses are protected in lockouts, so it’s brilliant if Aho’s camp was trying to ensure he gets paid in light of lockout rumors.

The cap will probably raise and Aho is betting that he will be worth a raise as a 26-year-old UFA. Pretty safe bet.

  • July 3, 2019 “All these players should do what’s best for themselves and their families,” Dundon said. “We’re supposed to get the best contract we can get for our team. I am so happy for Sebastian, so happy that he’s part of the organization and it’s never going to come up again.” It’s funny how an idea so universally accepted elsewhere is no match for the market of a small stigma. Rest assured that it doesn’t matter to those at the helm of the Hurricanes. Perception never did.

I could care less about Sebastian’s agent and being complicated with him going forward,” Dundon said.

It doesn’t matter at all.” LeBrun Notebook: ‘This was never going to work for Montreal’: Hurricanes owner on Sebastian Aho’s offer sheet By Pierre LeBrun Don Waddell’s phone rang a few times on Monday morning. Three teams called, all with the same name at the tip of their tongues: Sebastian Aho. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin confirmed to the assembled media later on Monday that he was one of those calls, although the offer sheet that Aho signed from Montreal would be all the confirmation anyone needed.

While Waddell would not confirm the other two teams, a few calls around the league suggest that the Panthers and Avalanche also checked in regarding Aho on Monday morning. Did they hint at an offer sheet or was it a preliminary trade inquiry? I’m not sure, but the interest was there. Also of note is that before Bergevin submitted the first offer sheet the NHL has seen in six and a half years, he did investigate the trade route with Waddell. It obviously didn’t get very far. Thus, the offer sheet, which got mixed reviews around the league.

An offer sheet is a tool that the CBA gives every team and I respect Marc for using whatever tool available in an attempt to improve his team,’’ Stanley Cup champion GM Doug Armstrong told me on Tuesday.

As a general manager, your job is to do what is best for your organization, not to worry about what other people think. In today’s NHL, players are assets to organizations but equally, so is cap space and draft picks. The system is set up to allow all teams to make decisions based on all three facets.’’ Added veteran GM Ken Holland, rather simply on Tuesday: “It’s part of the CBA.’’ “It is within the rules,” veteran GM Jim Rutherford said. “The Montreal Canadiens are doing what they believe is in their best interests and now the Carolina Hurricanes are going to do what they believe is in their best interest.” But there were also other team executives from around the league who weren’t happy.

It’s not that they’re against the idea of an offer sheet in itself, but they felt Montreal didn’t make its offer large enough to move the needle. And with Carolina set to match, it appears that they were correct. “The offer sheet is an available way to add a player. But it only makes sense if you are likely to get the player,’’ a Western Conference team executive who requested anonymity said. “This one, like the O’Reilly one, was ill-conceived and doomed to fail from the get-go.

All this accomplishes is it disrupts the marketplace and make the job of managers harder going forward, including his own.’’ The offer sheet was for five years with an AAV of $8.454 million. A little background before we get into the nitty-gritty of the actual offer: It’s believed Carolina offered eight years at a $7.5-million AAV in contract negotiations and that Aho’s camp responded with five years at a $9.5-million AAV. There was a meeting between agent Gerry Johannson and the Carolina brass in Vancouver on the Friday of draft weekend which didn’t go terribly well. And that’s being kind.

The ‘Canes don’t like that the offer sheet is for five years. Term was a major battle between Carolina and Johannson. But the $8.454-million AAV is palatable. I asked Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon on Tuesday if he was angry at the offer sheet.

I’m not angry,” Dundon said. “I’m just surprised that any team thought this had any chance of working. I guess the Carolina Hurricanes are still misunderstood if anyone anywhere thought this would be hard for us. I’m not upset with Sebastian, I am actually relieved to have this done. We all understand the players should do what they can to get their best contract. But this was never going to work for Montreal.” The key, as far as Montreal was concerned, was the frontloaded nature of the offer sheet. An $11.3-million signing bonus payable five days after the deal is registered in the coming week and another signing bonus next July 1 for $9.87 million.

It’s here where the Habs had hoped to overwhelm Dundon, already notorious for trying to keep salaries as low as possible on his team.

After Carolina matches, they won’t be allowed to trade Aho for a year, meaning they’re on the hook for both bonus payments before they could even entertain the idea of moving him (not that I got any indication that they would move the player, but it shows the financial commitment the Canes are responsible for). And this is where I think Montreal also made a bet. Bergevin mentioned a few times during his news conference how thrilled Aho was in signing the contract with the Habs. Was the hope that hearing this would make Dundon’s head explode and the owner turn on Aho to the point of not matching? It didn’t work.

It’s worth noting that while Colorado did match the Ryan O’Reilly offer sheet in 2013, the Avs eventually traded him. And while David Poile would never admit this, I truly believe that when Shea Weber signed a 14-year, $110-million offer sheet with Philadelphia in July 2012, that the veteran

  • July 3, 2019 Predators GM knew that very day he would eventually trade Weber. There’s an emotional part to all this no matter how much Aho and Dundon and anyone involved will deny it. The franchise player signed a contract with another team. But the biggest criticism from around the league was that Montreal didn’t make the contract rich enough to make it a worthwhile endeavor. My understanding of that, if I were to take the Habs perspective on this, is that the contract structure restrictions in the CBA make it so going up to the next threshold of draft compensation wouldn’t have been worth it for Montreal. My personal belief is that Montreal felt if Dundon was going to match the $21-million plus in the opening 12 months, that he would match a higher number as well. Remember that as per the rules, the lowest year of the contract has to be at least half of the highest year and you can’t drop more than 35 percent year-over-year. The Habs looked at all kinds of scenarios but made the final determination that it was about the cash up front and that they basically accomplished the same thing with less compensation and a more fair contract.

And while I get that reasoning, it’s the fair contract part that likely made it palatable for Carolina to match. The Habs maybe got too cute here in that they figured they could not only get their guy but also on a deal that makes sense under the cap. This is why offer sheets are so rare, normally to get it done you have to blow the other team so far out of the water with a contract that makes no sense for them to match. But then again, if it makes no sense for them, how much sense does it make for your team?

Believe me when I say this: I guarantee Dundon has already told Waddell that if there’s an RFA in Montreal the ‘Canes can go after over the next few years, he’s got the green light to do something crazy.

Offer sheet on Brayden Point considered I mentioned this during our free agent frenzy marathon telecast on TSN that according to my sources, the Canadiens actually began the offer sheet discussion with agent Gerry Johannson on RFA star centre Brayden Point (Johannson represents both Point and Aho). But as the week went along, it began to make more sense for Montreal to try to exploit budget-conscious Carolina.

If I had to guess, I’d say Point would have not signed an offer sheet anyway and I don’t know that the idea ever even got to his doorstep. Still, I’m sure the Lightning are aware now. Timo Meier signs Speaking of high-profile RFAs, what a job by the Sharks in getting Timo Meier signed at a $6-million AAV over four years. That is an unbelievably reasonable deal for a guy who just scored 30 goals and promises to be a core player for years to come. He’s the first of this special class of high-end RFA players to sign this offseason.

It stings losing captain Joe Pavelski to Dallas via free agency but getting Erik Karlsson to stay put and then securing Meier to a reasonable deal is mighty fine work by Sharks GM Doug Wilson.

The deal is also smart by Meier’s agent Claude Lemieux in my mind. While the AAV is $6 million, the year by year compensation is $4-million per year the first two seasons (which includes a $3.3-million signing bonus each of those first two years) then $6 million in Year 3 ($2-million signing bonus and $4-million salary) and finally a $10-million salary in Year 4. That’s significant because it means Meier’s qualifying offer is $10 million after the 2022-23 season. He will be one year away from UFA status at that point. Therefore, if he simply signs his one-year qualifying offer or goes to salary arbitration, he basically bridges himself to UFA a year later.

I’m guessing Lemieux and Meier view this as almost a five-year contract in many ways.

Having said that, there’s no question that the Sharks will attempt to extend Meier a year out in the summer of 2022. That’s the smart play. Leafs-Avs trade Going back to the top of this story where I mentioned Colorado was among the teams that checked in on Aho. It’s pretty fair to assume that Colorado’s big trade with Toronto later on Monday evening never happens if the Avs were able to proceed on Aho. But they get Nazem Kadri instead and he’s going to be a great fit in Denver. He’s got a cap-friendly contract for three more years at a $4.5-million AAV and I think he’s got a chance to reestablish his 30-goal form with the Avs.

The arrival of John Tavares last year knocked Kadri down in the lineup and he never quite adjusted to his new role. He’ll get bigger minutes in Colorado. Not that he wanted to get traded. Sources confirm Kadri nixed a potential deal to Calgary over the past week, and I believe his camp also sent word to another club on his 10-team notrade list that had interest in him not to bother calling the Leafs. It was clear Kadri didn’t want to move. Colorado was not on Kadri’s no-list, which allowed the Leafs to make the deal.

Tyson Barrie scratches the long-festering itch of the Leafs dying for a top-end, right-handed D.

With Cody Ceci also on the right side now, suddenly this Leafs D-crops doesn’t look too bad at all, even if UFA Jake Gardiner doesn’t end up sticking around. Outstanding work by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas between the Colorado and Ottawa trades on Monday. Anders Lee wasn’t leaving the island One thing I want to clear up on the Anders Lee signing with the New York Islanders is the notion that he’s only back because the team swung and missed on Artemi Panarin. Not true.

It’s my understanding that the Isles were budgeting to try and sign Panarin and Lee, not one or the other. While other teams certainly showed interest and reached out to Lee’s agent Neil

  • July 3, 2019 Sheehy with contract parameters that might have paid up to $9-million a year, the idea all along was to stay patient and resign with the Isles as part of a big July 1 bonanza — had GM Lou Lamoriello also been able to sign Panarin. Plus, there’s the fact that Lee simply didn’t want to leave Long Island. Which kind of tied his agent’s hands in conversations with other teams. Oh, Sheehy had those conversations with other teams, no question. Because he wanted to relay to Lee what was out there and make sure he was fully committed in his decision to stay put. But that was always the plan. Term was certainly an issue most of the season as Lamoriello and Sheehy went back and forth. They actually agreed to the $7-million AAV way back last September, I’m told. But Lamoriello forever was stuck on six years while Sheehy started at eight years before going to seven years. The Islanders get the break on AAV given what else was out there Monday, but Lee gets his term.

And finally, about July 1 ... The complaints from teams and agents alike about this year’s eight-day UFA speaking period were as loud as I’ve ever heard them. To the point where I think some power brokers are hoping to do something about it. As it turns out, next year won’t be as bad because the draft in Montreal is June 26-27 and so July 1 will be nice and tight afterward. But generally speaking in other years, and this is something I have long argued, it is absolutely ridiculous that the NHL waits until July 1 — a national holiday in the country that invented the game — to open free agency.

I heard from a number of GMs and agents alike over the past week that embrace the idea of moving up the start of free agency to a day in the last week of June.

Some like the idea of opening free agency two to three days after the draft is done. Some would want it on the last Friday in June. Lots of interesting ideas but the overwhelming response I got was that it’s time to move away from July 1 and move it into June. I think the NHLPA plans on bringing this up in bargaining with the league and I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes up at the next GM meeting.

Obviously, it’s self-serving for us in the NHL media to want free agency away from the July 1 and July 4 holidays on both sides of the border, my cottage awaits. But this goes way beyond that. Free-agent players would love to get their business out of the way before the first week of July 1. And for GMs that already work year-round, getting things wrapped up for the most part in free agency a week earlier would be tremendous for them. Let’s be honest, by Day 3 of the UFA speaking period it’s pretty clear how a lot of the chips will fall, so why not just get it over with for real.

And with that, I am done for the season.

Thanks to our loyal Athletic subscribers for reading all season and being part of the fun. See you again in September! Hurricanes will match Montreal’s offer sheet to Aho The star center, who signed a five-year deal worth $42.27 million with Montreal as a restricted free agent, will stay in Carolina By Cory Lavalette RALEIGH — One would think the start of summer would mean downtime for everyone involved in the NHL. Nope. No chance. Since spring officially ended, the Hurricanes have made four trades involving NHL players, selected 12 players at the NHL Draft and hosted many of those players at the team’s development camp, re-signed one goalie and brought in three more to compete for two spots in net, and faced an offer sheet on their franchise player.

Summertime fun, indeed. Heading into Monday’s opening of free agency, the Hurricanes had already shuffled around some of their lineup. Out were defenseman Calvin de Haan, goalie Scott Darling and prospects Alexei Saarela and Nicolas Roy, and in were Erik Haula, James Reimer, Gustav Forsling, Anton Forsberg and Patrick Marleau (and his planned buyout, for which Carolina landed a 2020 first-round pick). But the real shock and awe came starting at 2:40 p.m. on Monday. That’s when Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said he found out the Montreal Canadiens had tendered an offer sheet to star center Sebastian Aho.

The fiveyear, $42.27 million offer sheet — which left Waddell saying he was “actually surprised it wasn’t more” — gave Carolina seven days to match the contract or lose Aho to the Canadiens and receive Montreal’s first-, secondand thirdround picks in the 2020 draft.

It took the Hurricanes less than 24 hours to decide to match it. “It was so ridiculous in terms of probability of succeeding,” Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said Tuesday. “If it was a test, it was quite an easy one. Everyone’s trying to make their team better. We’ve looked at all the ways to make our team better,

  • July 3, 2019 and never came to the conclusion that the offer sheet was the best way. Your probability of succeeding is almost zero. It was proven that it was a waste of time.” Following Monday’s offer sheet, many speculated that the more than $20 million owed Aho in the first calendar year of the deal would be too much for the small market Hurricanes to handle. It wasn’t. “This sounds terrible, but writing that check is no big deal,” Dundon said, dispelling any notion the team’s billionaire owner’s pockets aren’t deep enough to handle the legendary Canadiens’ clout.

So despite the drama, the Hurricanes accomplished their main objective for the summer — getting Aho under contract, albeit unconventionally. The team also solidified its goaltending situation, re-signing Petr Mrazek late Monday to a two-year deal worth an average of $3.125 million. A year after splitting time with Curtis McElhinney — who signed a two-year contract to be the backup in Tampa Bay — Mrazek will be a clear-cut No. 1. AHL goalie of the year Alex Nedeljkovic will battle James Reimer and Anton Forsberg — both acquired via trade this offseason — for the back-up job.

Carolina also boosted its offense with the addition of Haula.

The 28-year-old center is coming off a knee injury that limited him to just 15 games with Vegas last season, but he scored 29 goals for the Golden Knights two seasons ago and joins many familiar faces in Raleigh. Haula was a linemate of Nino Niederreiter back when the two played in Minnesota, and he will also join fellow Finnish countrymen Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Saku Maenalanen. “I actually looked at the roster and was like in my head, I thought, ‘Gosh, I know a bunch of the guys,’” Haula said. On defense, the departure of de Haan opens a spot for Haydn Fleury or Jake Bean, and the only missing puzzle piece is what will happen with Justin Williams.

There 37-year-old captain is still weighing whether or not he will come back for a 19th NHL season.

If he decides to come back, the Hurricanes’ forward corps should be complete. Martin Necas, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, should make the jump to the NHL and play the wing — thanks to the addition of Haula — while still working toward being a center down the road. If Williams moves on, Carolina will likely pursue another winger, either by trade or free agency, to fill out their attack. While Williams’ decision will be a pivotal moment of the offseason — his partnership with coach Rod Brind’Amour was a key component in the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Final — there was no bigger priority than locking up Aho.

I’m relieved this is done and Sebastian doesn’t have to worry about this anymore,” Dundon said. “It’s nice to have it done.” Aho to have offer sheet matched by Hurricanes Center will get $8.454 million annually, was tendered by Canadiens by Tom Gulitti Sebastian Aho will have his five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet matched by Carolina Hurricanes within the next week. Aho was tendered the offer sheet, which has an average annual value of $8.454 million, by the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. By matching it, the Hurricanes will re-sign Aho through the 2023-24 season.

First of all, I'm just relieved that it's done and Sebastian's going to not have to worry about this anymore," Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon said. "He's a great player, he's a big asset for us, so it's nice to have it done." General manager Don Waddell did not say when the Hurricanes will inform the NHL that they've matched the offer sheet, only that there was never any hesitation they would. "We said all along for a period of time that we would match any contract offer," Waddell said. "We knew there was a possibility with all restricted free agents, so it comes as no surprise to anybody that they are offering it.

We are working through the process right now and I don't have a set date that we're going to actually send notice to the League, but obviously it will be within our time frame that's allotted through the CBA." Had the Hurricanes not matched the offer sheet, Aho, a center who was a restricted free agent, would have gone to Montreal, and Carolina would have received a first-round pick, secondround pick and third-round pick in the NHL Draft as compensation from the Canadiens. That compensation was not enticing to the Hurricanes.

There was no consideration to any other choice but him playing for the Hurricanes," Dundon said. Aho, who turns 22 on July 26, led the Hurricanes with 83 points (30 goals, 53 assists) in 82 regular-season games and had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help them advance to the Eastern Conference Final, where they were swept by the Boston Bruins. Selected by Carolina in the second round (No. 35) of

  • July 3, 2019 the 2015 NHL Draft, Aho has 197 points (83 goals, 114 assists) in 242 games. Dundon and Waddell dismissed suggestions from Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and Aho's agent, Gerry Johannson, that Aho wanted out of Carolina. "There's no scenario where Sebastian Aho doesn't want to be on the Hurricanes, but it is his right to use that leverage the CBA provides to get the most money from us. And that's all that happened," Dundon said. "I have not heard Sebastian Aho say [he wanted to leave], and if he said it, that would be different. But he didn't...

I know what I think of this person and this player and there's nothing that could make me or the organization not appreciate everything he does for us." Still, the Hurricanes would've preferred to sign Aho without the need of involving another team and an offer sheet. Waddell said Carolina made an eight-year contract offer that had a little lower average annual value, but "the (total) amount of money that we offered is a lot more money than the offer sheet." When Aho's five-year contract expires, based on the terms of the current NHL/NHLPA collective bargaining agreement, he would be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.

That agreement expires after the 2021-22 season. But other than that, the Hurricanes were happy to have him under contract.

If we were negotiating on our own behalf, we would have went for more years for sure," Waddell said. "The five years is shorter than what we wanted, so that would be potentially an issue for us down the road. But five years is also a long time." Dundon said the Canadiens were misinformed if they believed he didn't have the financial means to match the offer sheet, which is frontloaded to require more than $20 million be paid within the first 12 months. "The fact that you're asking this question about whether $20 million is a lot of money for me or for the Hurricanes, maybe that leads to why we're in this situation.

But it's not. It's not a concern," Dundon said. "I'm very fortunate to be in the position I am that, this sounds terrible but, writing that check is no big deal.

It doesn't mean we don't want to do contracts that are best for the organization." Prior to Aho, the last offer sheet given to an NHL player was to Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly by the Calgary Flames on Feb. 28, 2013. Colorado matched it and kept O'Reilly. The last offer sheet to lead to a player changing teams was one given to Anaheim Ducks forward Dustin Penner, who signed with the Edmonton Oilers on July 26, 2007. The Hurricanes let the Canadiens know quickly that they won't have the same success with Aho.

It's irrelevant to me who did it," Dundon said. "I don't think it's a great strategy.

I think it's kind of proven that it was probably a waste of time. But it's their right to do it. If that's what they think is the best way to make their team better, then they have a different philosophy than I do." Williams talking with Hurricanes; Carolina optimistic captain will return Forward is unrestricted free agent, mulling retirement by Tom Gulitti Justin Williams has yet to decide if he will play next season, but the Carolina Hurricanes expect to hear from their captain soon and they're optimistic he could be back. Williams, who turns 38 on Oct. 4, has been contemplating retirement after playing 18 seasons in the NHL.

The forward became an unrestricted free agent Monday after the two-year, $9 million contract he signed with Carolina on July 1, 2017 expired.

We've been in contact with Justin here recently," Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said Tuesday. "He hasn't given us 100 percent yet which way he's going to go. I think he potentially could be leaning toward playing, but I think in the next few weeks it will shake out." A Stanley Cup winner with Carolina in 2006 and with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014, Williams helped the Hurricanes reach the Eastern Conference Final last season, getting 53 points (23 goals, 30 assists) in 82 regular-season games and seven points (three goals, four assists) in 15 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Williams told the Hurricanes after the season that he needed some time to figure out what he wants to do next and said at the 2019 NHL Awards on June 18 he wasn't in a rush to make a decision.

I'm going to take my time and make sure I make the right one, right?" Williams said. "Because if I'm all in, I'm going to be all in. If I'm not quite all there, then I have to reassess the situation. I'm not going to be good if I'm 85 percent all in. I've got to be all in. That's the only that's fair to me, fair to the teammates, fair to everybody." Williams has stopped short of saying it will definitely be with the Hurricanes if he does decide to play another season but has acknowledged that is the most likely scenario. "We built a house and I'd prefer not to move my kids again," Williams said.

But, listen, anything can happen. I've known that in this world, certainly the hockey world. You don't really make plans. You just live it." Waddell said he believes Williams will remain with the Hurricanes, who on Tuesday matched a five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet given to forward Sebastian Aho by the Montreal Canadiens.

If he's going to play, we feel he's going to play here in Carolina," Waddell said of Williams. "He built a house here, his family's here and he said all along this is where he wants to play. I don't see anything happening in the very near future, but I think over the next period of time we'll know for sure."

  • July 3, 2019 Hurricanes to match Montreal’s offer sheet for Aho RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Hurricanes are keeping star forward Sebastian Aho and say they will match the $42 million offer sheet the Montreal Canadiens tendered him. General manager Don Waddell announced the decision Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the Canadiens extended their offer to the 21-year-old restricted free agent. Aho will receive a five-year, front-loaded, bonus-heavy contract worth $42.27 million. It carries an average annual value of $8.454 million.

Writing that check is no big deal,” team owner and billionaire Tom Dundon said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t want to do contracts that are best for the organization.” Waddell — who last week said the Hurricanes would match any offers extended to Aho — called it “an easy decision.” The Canadiens offered an $11.3 million lump sum payment within a week of Aho’s signing and another for $9.87 million July 1, 2020. Overall, the offer is 91.3% bonuses and 8.7% salary. The Hurricanes have until July 8 to make the match official, and Waddell said he didn’t know exactly when that would happen. But when they do, Aho’s initial lump sum payment is due within another week of that date.

It’s our job to manage our cap space as our players develop and hit free agency,” Waddell said in a statement. “There was no concern at any point that we would not be able to match this contract. Once again, the Carolina Hurricanes should not be underestimated. We have a plan and all the resources to win a Stanley Cup.” Extending offer sheets to restricted free agents has been a rare move in the NHL, with Aho the first player to receive one since Calgary tendered one to then-Colorado center Ryan O’Reilly six years ago. The Avalanche matched it. And not since 2007 has a team declined to match one.

This one had both general managers a bit feisty. Waddell, speaking about half an hour after learning of the offer to Aho, quipped that he was “actually surprised it wasn’t more” and added that his summer instantly became more stress-free because “I’m not going to spend all summer negotiating a contract now.” Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said his team “saw a vulnerable position” in extending the offer, adding “we all have a competitive edge” and maintaining that Aho “wants to come to Montreal.” Waddell on Tuesday said Aho’s agent, Gerry Johannson, “sold a bill of goods.” Aho had career highs with 30 goals, 53 assists and 83 points last season while helping Carolina reach the Eastern Conference final in its first postseason appearance since 2009.

He’s just the sixth player in franchise history with 30 goals and 50 assists in the same season, and the fourth with an 80-point season before turning 22.

He will be 26 when this contract expires following the 2023-24 season. Dundon said the offer sheet tug-of-war ultimately won’t hurt his relationship with his young star. “I am so happy for Sebastian and so happy that he’s part of the organization,” Dundon said. “It’s never going to come up again.”

  • July 3, 2019 Hurricanes say Canadiens got played by Sebastian Aho's agent "I think the other team got manipulated into believing some things that might not have been true," Hurricanes owner says. By Stu Cowan The Carolina Hurricanes believe that the Canadiens and GM Marc Bergevin got sold a bill of goods by Gerry Johannson, the agent for centre Sebastian Aho. After announcing on Tuesday that the Hurricanes would match the five-year, US$42.27-million offer sheet the Canadiens made to the restricted free agent on Monday, Carolina general manager Don Waddell and owner Tom Dundon held a media conference call. “Sebastian never wanted to leave Raleigh and we were in a contract negotiation, as many players have gone through before,” Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said. “The agent felt that this would move the needle down the road and make a decision to come quickly. But I’ve talked with Sebastian all summer long and certainly there was never any bad words towards Raleigh and he told us before and after that this was the place he wanted to be.” Waddell added: “Unfortunately, the agent felt that this was a path to take instead of negotiating a contract like most agents in the league do.” On Monday, Bergevin said about the offer sheet Aho signed: “He agreed to this, he believed it’s a really good offer for him and he wants to be part of the Montreal Canadiens.” The offer sheet the Hurricanes will match includes an $11.3 million signing bonus in Year 1, a $9.87 million bonus in Year 2, a $6.95 million bonus in Year 3 and a $5.25 million bonus in Years 4 and 5. It has an annual salary-cap hit of $8.45 million. The Hurricanes have until next Monday to finish the paperwork to finalize the contract with the NHL head office. Waddell said it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Hurricanes decided to match the offer. Aho, who turns 22 on July 26, posted 30-53-83 totals in 82 games last season with the Hurricanes.

First of all, we said all along we would match any offer,” the GM said on the conference call. “The agent knew that, I think the world knew that. When we were negotiating with the agent, the numbers weren’t that far off to the offer sheet and where we were. I think the agent felt that he wasn’t making the progress he wanted to make and he was going to go out and try to sell that we weren’t in a position to match it. I actually kind of wish I could explain it more ... in regards to what we said that we would match it, the offer sheet didn’t have anything in it that would make our team think twice about it.” Hurricanes owner Dundon said he never considered not matching the offer sheet, which will pay Aho $21 million over the first 12 months of the contract.

There was no consideration to give any other choice than him playing for the Hurricanes,” Dundon said. “First of all, I’m just relieved that it’s done and Sebastian can not have to worry about this anymore. He’s a great player, he’s a big asset for us. So it’s nice to have it done ... probably not the way we would have liked to have it done. I think Don was clear that I think the other team got manipulated into believing some things that might not have been true.

About the fact that you’re asking this question about whether $20 million is a lot of money for me or the Hurricanes, maybe that led to why we’re in this situation,” the owner continued.

But it’s not a concern. I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am that — it sounds terrible — but writing that cheque is no big deal. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to do contracts that are best for the organization and the players getting contracts that are best for them.” Dundon became majority owner of the Hurricanes and purchased the operating rights to PNC Arena in January 2018 for US$420 million. He is the chairman and managing partner of Dundon Capital Partners, a Dallas-based private investment firm, and Forbes estimated his net worth at US$1.1 billion in 2015. He was also owner of the Alliance of American Football, a league that folded during its first season in April.

The Athletic reported last week that Dundon has filed a claim against the defunct league in bankruptcy court, seeking repayment of the $70 million he paid to buy into it. Dundon said during Tuesday’s conference call that Aho’s relationship with the Hurricanes won’t be damaged moving forward because he signed the offer sheet with the Canadiens.

All these players should do the best for themselves and their families and we’re supposed to get the best contract we can get for our team and hopefully no one’s ever mad about it,” Dundon said. “I’m so happy for Sebastian and so happy that he’s part of the organization. It’s never going to come up again.” The Hurricanes will open the NHL regular season at home on Oct. 3 against the Canadiens. “We want to win them all,” Dundon said when asked about that game. “The Canadiens are irrelevant to me. We got to beat all 30 other teams also. So I don’t think it’s any different. I want to beat them, but I want to win that game anyways.”

  • July 3, 2019 Hurricanes will match Canadiens' offer to Sebastian Aho: Carolina GM "This was an easy decision," Hurricanes GM says. "Sebastian is one of the best players in the league." By Stu Cowan Well, that didn’t take long. The Carolina Hurricanes made it official on Tuesday that they intend to match the offer sheet the Canadiens gave restricted free-agent centre Sebastian Aho on Monday. It’s a five-year deal worth US$42.27 million and is heavily loaded with signing bonuses that will pay the player $21 million in the first 12 months of the contract, including an $11.3 million signing bonus to start.

The deal runs through the 2023-24 season with an annual salary-cap hit of $8.454 million. Aho, who turns 22 on July 26, posted 30-53-83 totals in 82 games last season with the Hurricanes. Since being selected by Carolina in the second round (35th overall) at the 2015 NHL Draft, Aho has 83-114- 197 totals in 242 games. The Hurricanes selected him nine picks after the Canadiens took defenceman Noah Juulsen in the first round (26th overall) at the 2015 draft. “This was an easy decision,” Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said Tuesday on the team’s website. “Sebastian is one of the best players in the league and the centrepiece of what we’re building here.

We’ve spoken to him throughout this process and he’s made it clear that he wants to be in Raleigh and be a part of this organization.

It’s our job to manage our cap space as our players develop and hit free agency,” Waddell added. “There was no concern at any point that we would not be able to match this contract. Once again, the Carolina Hurricanes should not be underestimated. We have a plan and all the resources to win a Stanley Cup.” After Bergevin made the offer sheet on Monday and Aho signed it, Waddell said: “I know my summer just got better because I’m not gonna spend all summer negotiating a contract now.” The Hurricanes actually did the Canadiens a favour by making the announcement so soon. They had seven days to make a decision and the longer they waited the fewer players would still be available to the Canadiens on the free-agent market.

But the Hurricanes and owner Tom Dundon obviously wanted to send a strong message to their fans by matching the deal so quickly.

The offer sheet is an available way to add a player,” a Western Conference team executive who requested anonymity told Pierre LeBrun in a story on The Athletic website. “But it only makes sense if you are likely to get the player. This one, like the (Ryan) O’Reilly one, was illconceived and doomed to fail from the get-go. All this accomplishes is it disrupts the marketplace and makes the job of managers harder going forward, including his own.” In 2013, the Calgary Flames offered O’Reilly a two-year, US$10-million offer sheet that was then matched by the Colorado Avalanche.

The questions now becomes what will Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin do next? One player still available on the free-agent market who might interest Bergevin is defenceman Jake Gardiner, who posted 3-27-30 totals and a plus-19 in 62 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season.

Gardiner, who turns 29 on Thursday, is coming off a five-year, US$20.25-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.05 million. He is also a left-hand shot and would be able to play beside Shea Weber on the No. 1 defence pairing.

If Bergevin wants to take another shot at an offer sheet — and this one would have to be huge — Toronto right-winger Mitch Marner, 22, is a restricted free agent after leading the Maple Leafs in scoring last season with 26-68-94 totals. Another possible offer-sheet target is Brayden Point, a 23-year-old centre who posted 41-51-92 totals last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. When asked during his news conference Monday in Brossard if he had a Plan B in case the Hurricanes matched the offer, Bergevin said: “You know what? This shows to our fans that Geoff Molson, ownership, that we want to be a good hockey team.

We want to win and we feel that this is the guy that we identified was going to help. He’s a young player. You take a risk when you do that.” The GM added: “We felt even though if it doesn’t happen we still have a very good hockey team.” The Canadiens have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and in three of the last four years. Bergevin traded forward Andrew Shaw to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday and lost defenceman Jordie Benn to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday as a free agent. They were two key players last season who were also very popular in the locker room.

The only additions Bergevin has made so far are the freeagent signings of backup goalie Keith Kinkaid and minorleague forward Riley Barber on Monday. Centre Matt Duchene was a player the Canadiens had interest in and he visited Montreal last week before signing a sevenyear, US$56-million deal with the Nashville Predators on Monday. Duchene’s visit to Montreal might have only been a favour to his agent, Pat Brisson, who is a longtime friend of Bergevin’s, because a source said the player was already building a house in Nashville and is also a huge country-music fan.

Last year, free-agent centre John Tavares wouldn’t even meet with the Canadiens before signing a seven-year, US$77- million contract with the Maple Leafs.

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