Hurricanes match Canadiens' offer sheet to Sebastian Aho

The Hurricanes have matched the Canadiens’ offer sheet to center Sebastian Aho worth $42.27 million over five years, Carolina president and GM Don Waddell announced Sunday. 

The deal, which carries an average annual value of $8.454 million, runs through the 2023-24 NHL season.

“This was an easy decision,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said in a statement. “Sebastian is one of the best players in the league and the centerpiece of what we’re building here. We’ve spoken to him throughout this process and he’s made it clear that he wants to be in Raleigh and be a part of this organization. … There was no concern at any point that we would not be able to match this contract. Once again, the Carolina Hurricanes should not be underestimated. We have a plan and all the resources to win a Stanley Cup.”

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin released a statement Monday acknowledging defeat in his pursuit of Aho. 

“In tendering an offer sheet to Sebastian Aho on July 1, our objective was to add a talented young forward entering the prime of his career,” Bergevin said. “With Carolina matching our offer, we wish Sebastian and the Hurricanes all the best.”

Aho, 21, had 83 points (30 goals, 53 assists) in 82 games last season, setting career highs in goals, assists and points and becoming only the sixth player in franchise history to record at least 30 goals and 50 assists in a season. He also became the fourth player in franchise history to record 80 points in a season before turning 22 and the seventh player in franchise history to score 30 goals in a season before his 22nd birthday.

The move by Montreal to sign Aho to the offer sheet didn’t come as a shock given that they created space ahead of the start of free agency by moving veteran Andrew Shaw back to the Blackhawks and Nicolas Deslauriers to the Ducks.

Aho’s deal, according to Sportsnet, is heavily frontloaded, paying him $21 million in the first year, and contains the maximum signing bonus allowed.

The offer sheet was the first in the NHL since 2013, when the Flames tried to snatch Ryan O’Reilly from the Avalanche.

It has been 12 years since an offer sheet was not matched. In 2007, the Oilers acquired Dustin Penner from the Ducks.