RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes are keeping star forward Sebastian Aho and say they will match the $42 million offer sheet the Montreal Canadiens tendered him.

General Manager Don Waddell announced the decision Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the Canadiens extended their offer to the 21-year-old restricted free agent. Aho will receive a five-year, front-loaded, bonus-heavy contract worth $42.27 million. It carries an average annual value of $8.454 million.

“Writing that check is no big deal,” team owner and billionaire Tom Dundon said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t want to do contracts that are best for the organization.”

Waddell – who last week said the Hurricanes would match any offers extended to Aho – called it “an easy decision.”

The Canadiens offered an $11.3 million lump sum payment within a week of Aho’s signing and another for $9.87 million July 1, 2020. Overall, the offer is 91.3 percent bonuses and 8.7 percent salary. The Hurricanes have until July 8 to make the match official, and Waddell said he didn’t know exactly when that would happen. But when they do, Aho’s initial lump sum payment is due within another week of that date.

Extending offer sheets to restricted free agents has been a rare move in the NHL, with Aho the first player to receive one since Calgary tendered one to then-Colorado center Ryan O’Reilly six years ago. The Avalanche matched it. And not since 2007 has a team declined to match one.

This one had both general managers a bit feisty.

Waddell, speaking about half an hour after learning of the offer to Aho, quipped that he was “actually surprised it wasn’t more” and added that his summer instantly became more stress-free because “I’m not going to spend all summer negotiating a contract now.”

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said his team “saw a vulnerable position” in extending the offer, adding “we all have a competitive edge” and maintaining that Aho “wants to come to Montreal.”

Aho had career highs with 30 goals, 53 assists and 83 points last season while helping Carolina reach the Eastern Conference final in its first postseason appearance since 2009. He’s just the sixth player in franchise history with 30 goals and 50 assists in the same season, and the fourth with an 80-point season before turning 22.

He will be 26 when this contract expires following the 2023-24 season.

SHARKS: The San Jose Sharks signed defenseman Dalton Prout and forward Jonny Brodzinski to one-year contracts.

COYOTES: The Arizona Coyotes signed forward Lawson Crouse to a three-year contract.

SABRES: Top draft pick Dylan Cozens needs a “procedure” to repair an injured left thumb.

The Sabres provided the update a day after Cozens was scheduled to visit a specialist. Cozens will have the procedure Wednesday.

He was hurt Saturday during a three-on-three scrimmage on the final day of the Sabres’ developmental camp. A video showed Cozens leaving the ice with his thumb appearing dislocated.

BLUES: The St. Louis Blues re-signed restricted free agent Sammy Blais to an $850,000, one-year contract.

Blais, 23, had a goal and two assists in 15 playoff games to help St. Louis win the Stanley Cup.

DUCKS: Darryl Sutter has been hired as an adviser to new coach Dallas Eakins’ staff.

Sutter is the winningest coach in the history of the Los Angeles Kings, the Ducks’ crosstown archrivals. He coached Los Angeles to its only two Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014 while winning a club-record 225 games over 5 seasons.

But the Kings fired Sutter in April 2017 after they missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. Sutter has been out of coaching for the past two seasons.

The Kings are on their third head coach since Sutter’s dismissal, hiring Todd McLellan in April.

Anaheim appointed Eakins last month.


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