The dog days of the summer in the NHL were interrupted this week with some bad weather in Montreal.Last weekend, the Carolina Hurricanes struck when they announced they had signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one year, $6.1M offer sheet. The Canadiens would have one week to match that offer or be compensated with a 1st and 3rd round pick. This hostile move from the Canes came two years after the Habs signed Sebastien Aho to an offer sheet, which the Canes later matched.
The Habs had three legitimate options: match the offer and hope Kotkaniemi lives up to the contract; take the compensation and use those picks in the 2022 draft that is being held in Montreal; or take the compensation and use it to replace Kotkaniemi in the line-up.
Theoretically, they could go a fourth route and try an offer sheet of their own on another restricted free agent – talented centreman Elias Petterson comes to mind – but it is unlikely that stingy GM Marc Bergevin has the appetite to offer more in an offer sheet than Vancouver GM Jim Benning would be prepared to match.
On Saturday, Sept. 4 the Montreal Canadiens declined to match, and Kotkaniemi went to Carolina. Shortly after, Montreal dealt two picks to Arizona in exchange for Christian Dvorak.
Elsewhere, with training camp starting in a couple of weeks, there are a few bits of unfinished business.
The Habs are not the only team vulnerable to an offer sheet. Several big-name restricted free agents remained unsigned with training camp drawing nigh. At deadline, the list included Elias Petterson and Quinn Hughes in Vancouver, Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov in Minnesota, Brady Tkachuk in Ottawa, and Rasmus Dahlin in Buffalo. It’s a young man’s game, and these young men are playing hard ball to get their best deals before the season gets under way.
Jack Eichel has not yet found his way out of Buffalo. The disgruntled centre is awaiting a trade, as well as the team’s agreement for him to have surgery on a disc in his neck. GM Kevyn Adams has reportedly not shifted from asking for major organs and first born children in the deal, and they are at an impasse. It’s believed that once this domino falls there may be a flurry of trades.
Vladimir Tarasenko is hoping to get caught in that flurry and get traded out of St. Louis before camp.
The Arizona Coyotes are still looking to offload salary and focus on rebuilding, so names like Phil Kessel and Christian Dvorak may appear on new team sweaters before puck drop.
The Anaheim Ducks would still like to find a new home for Adam Henrique.
We can expect a few more changes of address in September.
CFL Catch Up
In the CFL, Week 4 got kicked in the teeth by COVID-19. The Edmonton Elks game against the Toronto Argonauts, which was scheduled for Aug. 26, had to be postponed due to an outbreak amongst Elks players.
The CFL has some interesting rules where COVID is concerned. If a game is postponed and cannot be rescheduled, the team with the positive tests will forfeit. If the teams in the postponed game can demonstrate that 85 per cent of their players under contract have at least one dose of the vaccine, the players will still receive their salary despite the delayed game. If the team fails to meet that benchmark, the entire team will forfeit their salary for that week.
Elsewhere, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defeated the Montreal Alouettes 27-10, the BC Lions doubled the Ottawa Redblacks 24-12, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers edged the Calgary Stampeders 18-16. The Saskatchewan Roughriders enjoyed a bye week.
With a quarter of the season in the CFL history books, here are your standings.
In the East, the Argos are in first place with a 2-1 record. The Tiger-Cats, Redblacks and Alouettes are all tied for second at 1-2. In the West we see a bigger spread. The Roughriders are in first place with an undefeated 3-0 record, the Blue Bombers are in second at 3-1 (wins percentage determines standings), the Lions are in third at 2-2, the Elks are in 4th at 1-2, and the Stamps take up the rear at 1-3.
Blue Jays Babble
Last Friday the Toronto Blue Jays headed out of town on a road trip with just 36 games remaining in the season and needing to win about 70 per cent of the time to attain enough wins to fetch a wild card spot.
That road trip began in Detroit where the Jays won two of three games. The Baby Blue then migrated to Baltimore for a three-game series against the Orioles and left with two wins. That’s a 67 per cent wins rate.
On the weekend the Jays were due to face the Oakland Athletics for three games before a four-game series against the Yankees. Fans are getting a sick feeling in their bellies that as the temperature is dropping, so may be the Jays chances for a post-season berth.
Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreation softball player and coach, and newbie ukulele-ist. A Newfoundlander living in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat, just as long as it remains respectful. Find her on twitter as @lori10habs.