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Sebastian Aho was one of the most highly-coveted players from this summer’s loaded restricted free agency class, and for once, another team took a chance to pry the Carolina Hurricanes star away.
Aho was presented with an offer sheet by the Montreal Canadiens, which he signed, but was almost immediately matched by the Hurricanes.
The 22-year-old provided further insight to his decision to sign the offer sheet, before the Hurricanes inked him to a five-year, $42.27 million contract.
“That’s the thing: It’s not up to you if somebody wants to offer sheet,” Aho said to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I had no idea. Obviously, I’m thankful for Montreal to offer me this contract — they showed me they wanted me — but at the same time I’m really psyched to play in Carolina.
Montreal presented Aho with a top-heavy salary structure which included a $21.7 million bonus to be paid within the first year of the deal. Aho said the process happened quickly and acted accordingly.
“There was not a lot of time to think about it,” Aho said. “A day. A day. It happened really fast. It was really important to start the season on time, to me. That helped to get there.
“It felt like the right thing to do at the moment.”
Aho submitted an outstanding season, notching 30 goals and 83 points in 82 games, leading a Hurricanes team colloquially referred to as the “Bunch of Jerks” to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they were swept by the Boston Bruins.
It’s clear he has no regrets, as the Hurricanes won’t be sneaking up on anyone this fall.
“When they told me that they were going to match it was an awesome feeling,” he said. “Even though I’d signed the contract, that was the moment it was deal done in my mind. Close it. The next five years, I don’t have to worry about it. I can focus on playing hockey which is the most important, and obviously in Carolina where we had a good year last year and great teammates, a great coach.”
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