The rookie seems destined to spend the whole season with the big club
Jesperi Kotkaniemi is likely to spend the whole year in Montreal. It’s practically written in the sky.
Kotkaniemi will take another step at the end of the week. With three games on the schedule against the Montreal Flames, Buffalo Sabers and Boston Bruins, the Finn will reach the 10-game NHL. Provided you do not suffer an injury.
On a strategic level, the mark of the 10 meetings represents a rather important stake. The CH will burn the first year of his rookie contract at this time. But for Claude Julien, the debate seems futile.
“We did not even talk about it, honestly,” the head coach replied when asked if he is planning a meeting with Marc Bergevin to discuss this topic.
Is this a good sign for Kotkaniemi?
“It must,” Julien said with a smile on his face.
On the eve of the Flames’ visit, Kotkaniemi was still calm.
“I do not see it as a special week, explained the third overall pick in the last repechage. I did not count the number of matches. I go one day at a time and I try to give my best. There are still several periods to play before reaching this figure. I think I’m learning little things every day. It’s normal for a recruit. “
Like Victor Mete last year, Kotkaniemi enjoys the presence of his mother, Kati, at his side.
“She made the trip from Pori to Finland to Montreal before our first home game,” he said. After seven weeks in North America, I was happy to eat traditional food from home. I do not know how long she will stay here. But she is happy to share this moment with me. I live my dream playing in the NHL. “
The day Mamma Kotkaniemi returns to Finland, she will probably have had time to concoct some home-made dishes that he can safely put away in his freezer.
In its place
In his first seven games under the colors of the Habs, Kotkaniemi has had three assists and plays just over 14 minutes per game (14:17) on average.
“He’s made tremendous progress since the rookie tournament,” said Julien. At the moment, I do not see a player who is out of place. But if people expected him to dominate the marker column, I do not think it would be realistic. He’s still producing and he’s doing well at the face-offs. He’s still a young player and he’s learning about the NHL. The more experience he gains, the better he will be. “
When younger, Kotkaniemi watched Joel Armia with the team from his hometown in Pori. Today, the two Finns find themselves in the same trio with Paul Byron.
“He plays very well,” said Armia. I do not see why he could not stay in Montreal all year long. He has a complete game, he reads the action very well, he has a good shot, he skates well, but I would say he is especially good in all aspects. “
The youngest in the NHL
According to Brendan Gallagher, there is a fairly simple equation with Kotkaniemi. With his simple presence, he makes the CH a better training.
“There are a lot of issues, but as a player, I think he’s helping our team,” said Gallagher. I focus only on this aspect. If we talk strictly about hockey, he does the work. If I am not mistaken, he is the youngest player in the NHL. It responds well to the challenges since the beginning of the camp. He never slowed down. “
Gallagher is not mistaken. Born on July 6, 2000, Kotkaniemi is the baby of the Bettman circuit. He is a few months younger than Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabers and Andrei Svechnikov of the Carolina Hurricanes, the two other players born in 2000 who are already in the NHL.