For the first time since 2013, the RFA offer sheet route has been used. Hurricanes center, Sebastian Aho was issued one via the Canadiens on Monday–a curveball to the usual July 1 frenzy.

Aho, 21–going on-22, had a career season scoring 83 points in 82 games as part of a superb third pro season. He led all Carolina skaters in goals (30) and points and has quickly emerged as a star player in a market that gained traction following its post-game celebrations and a three-round playoff appearance.

The tendered offer sheet is a five-year deal worth $42.27 million–an $8.454 million AAV. That, according to CapFriendly, would result in a compensation package of a trio of picks including Montreal’s 2020 first, second and third round picks.

The Hurricanes will have exactly one week to decide to match the contract or accept the afformentioned compensation package. Matching means the somewhat conservative owner of Carolina, Tom Dundon will need to follow the exact terms offered in Montreal’s structure which include $23.5 million in July 1 signing bonus including a $11.3 million bonus due immediately following matching the deal. A largely bonus-heavy deal, Aho would make $700,000 in his first season as his base salary and $750,000 in the four following years.

On a conference call last week, Carolina General Manager, Don Waddell said he felt the speculation on offer sheets were “overblown” and indicated he’d match any offer sheet. On Monday though, Waddell said he was surprised by the offer sheet.

“It’s certainly a surprise,” he said. “It’s a surprise it wasn’t more. We literally got the email at 2:40 today so all people are not fully aware yet…Aho is our best player and we want to keep him long-term. If you go back in time, I think every offer sheet but one was matched.”

Of course that being a five-year, $21.25 million offer sheet to then-Anaheim Duck, Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers.

Aho may in fact be just the start of this trend in a high-end class of restricted free agents including Mitch Marner, Patrik Laine and Brayden Point.

Elsewhere in the land of restricted free agents, Timo Meier and the Sharks agreed to terms on a four-year, $24 million extension.

 

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