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Canadiens teammates share reactions to Kotkaniemi offer sheet, exit

Canadiens teammates share reactions to Kotkaniemi offer sheet, exit

WINNIPEG, MB - MARCH 17: Jesperi Kotkaniemi #15, Nick Suzuki #14, and Joel Edmundson #44 of the Montreal Canadiens discuss strategy during third period action against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on March 17, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Quite honestly, it’s still stunning that the Hurricanes snatched Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Canadiens with a successful offer sheet. From the sound of recent reactions, it’s something Kotkaniemi’s now-former Canadiens teammates are still grappling with.

In recent interviews, Tyler Toffoli and Nick Suzuki reacted to Kotkaniemi joining the Hurricanes via that offer sheet, and the Canadiens reacting by trading for Christian Dvorak. The general takeaway is some bewilderment, a basic level of understanding, and optimism that the Habs can remain competitive.

Toffoli, Suzuki react to Kotkaniemi leaving Canadiens via offer sheet

During an episode of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast, Nick Suzuki admits that he’ll miss Kotkaniemi. That said, he also understands why Kotkaniemi ultimately accepted the Hurricanes’ offer sheet.

“It’s tough because he’s a great friend of mine, obviously,” Suzuki said. “But it is part of the business. I got to learn that pretty quickly when I got traded from Vegas.”

Suzuki noted that the Kotkaniemi offer sheet dropped when he was enjoying a family dinner, one that included his brother Ryan Suzuki. That must have been quite the meal. On one hand, you have Nick Suzuki pondering losing a friend he texts regularly, and possibly wondering how that Kotkaniemi offer sheet might affect his future Canadiens negotiations.

Then you have Ryan Suzuki, a promising Hurricanes prospect whose path to ice time gets that much tougher with the Kotkaniemi addition. Probably stopped any discussions of bogeys and birdies for a bit.

For Suzuki, the Kotkaniemi offer sheet likely hit a number of personal buttons. Again, they’re friends. They’re also in similar stages of their budding careers.

Bizarre, but it drew eyeballs

With a veteran like Tyler Toffoli -- one under contract for three more seasons -- there’s likely more distance. Even so, he told the Canadian Press’ Josh Clipperton that the situation was “bizarre.”

That said, Toffoli also acknowledged the obvious: “You’re not going to turn down $6 million.”

So, Canadiens teammates both in Kotkaniemi’s age range, and veterans alike, understand the decision. Even if that acceptance is of a begrudging variety.

They also praised the Dvorak addition, with Toffoli saying he noticed that Dvorak was tough to play against during his Kings days. And, no doubt, the pettiness had an offbeat way of marketing hockey.

“It got noticed by people who don’t (follow) hockey,” Toffoli said. “It’s building the game.”

“Everybody was talking about hockey for a week.”

Eventually, that mainstream attention moved on to something else. For those in the hockey world, these moves will draw discussions for years. Clearly, it’s something that has players talking, too.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.