2021 was certainly another eventful year, both on and off the rink. Over the coming days, PHR will take a look back at the top stories from around the game on a month-by-month basis. Next up is a look at September, another busy month on the NHL calendar last year when training camps got underway.
Successful Offer Sheet: It turns out the one-year, $6.1MM offer sheet that Carolina tendered to RFA center Jesperi Kotkaniemi was too much for Montreal’s comfort as they declined to match, sending the 21-year-old to the Hurricanes with the Canadiens in exchange for a pair of 2022 draft picks (first and third-rounders). They didn’t hold onto the first rounder for long, however, as about an hour later, they sent that pick along with a 2024 second-round selection to Arizona in exchange for Christian Dvorak who they hoped would help fill the vacancy from Kotkaniemi’s departure plus Phillip Danault leaving in free agency. The early return hasn’t been great as Dvorak has just a dozen points in 29 games this season, four fewer than Kotkaniemi.
Extensions Abound: While the window for contract extensions for players on expiring contracts opened up in July, many of those deals were instead signed in the days leading up to training camp. In goal, Elvis Merzlikins (five years, $27MM) ensured he’ll be the starter in Columbus for the foreseeable future while Calvin Petersen (three years, $15MM) intended to do the same with Los Angeles (although with Jonathan Quick turning back the clock this season, that hasn’t happened just yet). On the back end, Colton Parayko (eight years, $52MM) decided not to test free agency and could instead play his entire career with the Blues.
There were plenty more extensions as well. A pair of young wingers in Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee (six years, $30MM) and Ottawa’s Drake Batherson (six years, $29.85MM) bought out the rest of their RFA years and giving them a shot at hitting the open market still in their 20’s while giving their respective teams some extra control. Even some general managers got in on the fun as Ottawa’s Pierre Dorion and Tampa Bay’s Julien BriseBois inked extensions while Toronto GM Kyle Dubas handed head coach Sheldon Keefe a two-year extension.
Kaprizov Signs: It wasn’t four years of waiting like it was for Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov to finally come to North America but it felt like his contract talks had dragged on for quite a while. Eventually, the two sides were able to come to terms, agreeing to a five-year, $45MM contract. It was quite the payday for Kaprizov considering his NHL experience to that point was limited to the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 campaign where he took home the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. The deal – which carries a no-move clause for the final two seasons – buys Minnesota two extra years of team control while allowing Kaprizov to get to unrestricted free agency at 29 when another long-term deal could still be feasible.
Bridge For Dahlin: After an up-and-down start to his NHL career, it was going to be interesting to see if Buffalo tried to work out a long-term contract with restricted free agent defenseman Rasmus Dahlin or opt for a bridge deal. They chose the latter, signing the 2018 top pick to a three-year, $18MM deal. The 21-year-old will still have one season of RFA eligibility remaining at that time and will be owed a qualifying offer of $7.2MM. That gives both sides time to see if the blueliner can fill the lofty expectations he had when he first came into the league.
Olympic Participation: September was also a promising month when it came to Olympic participation with the NHL and NHLPA reaching an agreement to send NHL players to the games in China. It was set to be the first best-on-best action since the 2016 World Cup. There was an option for the league to withdraw if the COVID situation around the league became an issue. Of course, that’s exactly what happened. In the span of three months, things completely turned around on that front.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.