The Carolina Hurricanes signed Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet on Saturday, bringing some welcome excitement to the dog days of the NHL offseason. The move also likely caught the attention of several players slated to become restricted free agents next summer.
Lost amid the hubbub over the Hurricanes exacting revenge on the Canadiens for offer-sheeting Sebastian Aho two years ago and whether the Habs will match is why Kotkaniemi signed this deal in the first place. On Sunday, The Athletic's Arpon Basu suggested the 21-year-old could be seeking a fresh start after an inconsistent tenure with a club whose management questions his ability to fill a larger role.
Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk and Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi could find themselves in similar circumstances when they become restricted free agents in 2022. They are among seven RFAs who could seek a change of scenery via trade or offer sheet for various reasons next summer.
Filip Zadina, Detroit Red Wings
A promising NHL career seemed to lie ahead for Filip Zadina when the Detroit Red Wings selected him sixth overall in the 2018 NHL draft. A good skater with plenty of offensive skills, he had the potential to become a top-six winger with the rebuilding Wings.
Zadina has shown flashes of his potential during limited playing time in his first two NHL campaigns. He earned a full-time roster spot last season, tallying 19 points in 49 games, but his offensive consistency needs improvement.
Perhaps Zadina will have a breakthrough performance in 2021-22 with more playing time among the Wings top six. However, if he once again has difficulty finding the back of the net, he could face a questionable future in Motown. A move to a club with more experienced scorers for Zadina to skate alongside and learn from could help him find his scoring touch.
Alexandar Georgiev, New York Rangers
For the past three seasons, Alexandar Georgiev filled a backup role for the New York Rangers. The 25-year-old goaltender has a career record of 43 wins, 38 losses and nine overtime defeats with a 2.95 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. Those are decent numbers on a rebuilding club.
However, Georgiev was the subject of trade rumors this offseason. On July 29, Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli reported he requested a trade, according to sources, hoping to break out from behind Rangers starter Igor Shesterkin. The following day, USA Today's Vincent Z. Mercogliano quoted Georgiev's agent as saying his client never asked to be moved.
Georgiev is expected to once again fill the role of Shesterkin's understudy. If he does seek a starter's job down the road, however, he won't get it with the Rangers. Shesterkin earned the bulk of the starts last season and signed a four-year contract on Aug. 19 worth an annual average value of $5.66 million.
If Georgiev forces the issue, he could get shopped by next year's trade deadline if the Blueshirts are out of playoff contention by then. Otherwise, he could become an offseason trade chip during the 2022 NHL draft weekend.