It has finally happened. The Montreal Canadiens have tendered an offer sheet to Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes. The proposed contract is a five-year deal with an average annual value of $8.454MM. Sportsnet reports that Aho has indeed signed it, meaning the Hurricanes now have one week to either match the contract or allow Aho to join the Canadiens and receive draft compensation in return. A deal of this value would result in the Hurricanes receiving a first, second and third-round pick in 2020. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet reports that the deal has the maximum amount of signing bonuses allowable—which would equate to approximately $21MM in the first 12 months—a contract structure the Hurricanes would have to match. If they do, Carolina would also not be able to trade Aho for a full year.
Appearing at a press conference soon after he received word of the offer sheet, Hurricanes GM Don Waddell admitted he was surprised that the offer wasn’t higher for Aho, and joked that it made his summer easier by removing any negotiations. To be clear, this will be Aho’s next contract one way or the other meaning he will carry a cap hit of $8.454MM for the next five years and reach unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2024. That’s obviously not an ideal situation for the Hurricanes, but actually isn’t a salary that is far away from what the two sides likely would have settled on.
In fact, this deal for Aho may well have ramifications around the league regardless of whether the Hurricanes match or not. The 21-year old forward switched to center full-time this season and reached new heights in basically every offensive category. With 30 goals and 83 points in 82 games, Selke and Hart trophy votes, Aho is deserving of a huge raise and was arguably just as valuable as some of the other top restricted free agents on the market. Those players and teams now have a five-year contract comparable, something that may not please some of the young stars.
It’s also important to remember that the first-round pick would be unprotected if the Hurricanes choose not to match the offer sheet.