Canadiens get backup goalie Keith Kinkaid on free-agent market

Ross Houston
July 2, 2019

The Montreal Canadiens signed restricted free-agent center Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes to a five-year offer sheet with an average annual value of $8.454 million.

According to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, the offer sheet contains the maximum amount of signing bonus allowable and Aho would be owed $21 million in the first calendar year under the new deal.

The Carolina Hurricanes have a week to match the offer sheet, and if it doesn't the team will be compensated a Canadiens first-, second- and third-round draft pick.

Aho has signed the offer sheet, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed.

Left-winger Anders Lee, another player the Canadiens were reported to have interest in, chose to stay as captain of the New York Islanders, signing a seven-year deal worth US$49 million that has an annual salary-cap hit of $7 million. He's coming off a breakout year in which he scored 30 goals and registered 83 points in 82 games for the Canes.

This is a rare occurrence, as it marks the first offer sheet in the National Hockey League since the Calgary Flames unsuccessfully tendered an offer sheet to Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly in 2013. Look for Carolina to match the deal rather swiftly.

"We're all competitive. It's part of the CBA, it's within the rules". It probably helps the other team if I did it immediately because then they can go out and sign players and help them right now. "I'm just excited to be a part, excited for the opportunity and excited to work with such a young, up-and-coming team like that".

"With him in the lineup, he would make our team better".

The Aho offer wasn't the Canadiens' only move.

The Canadiens needed a solid backup goalie to take some of the pressure off Carey Price, who played 66 games last season. "Again, I didn't know if we'd see something today, tomorrow or whenever". He has a career 2.90 goals-against average and a.906 save percentage. It also carries trade protection in the latter years of the deal.

While his 2018-19 season wasn't particularly ideal, it's still hard to not see Kinkaid as a legitimate upgrade on Antti Niemi.

Left-winger Artemi Panarin - the biggest name on the free-agent market - signed a seven-year, US$81.5-million contract with the New York Rangers that has an $11.642 million salary-cap hit. Since then, he has struggled in two straight seasons with AHL Laval which calls his overall upside into question.

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