In the last week of June, Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Don Waddell was asked about the increasing chatter of an offer sheet becoming a reality this summer, especially as it related to restricted free agent Sebastian Aho.
"We are in a position that we can and would match any offer that was made to us. We've made that real clear," he said. "There are lots of things I have to worry about in this job, but that's not one I even put one second of thought into."
Around 2:40 p.m. on July 1, the email arrived in Waddell's inbox. Aho was tendered a five-year, $42.27 million offer sheet by the Montreal Canadiens.
Just over 20 minutes later, Waddell addressed the situation from a fourth-floor conference room at PNC Arena.
"How's your day going?" Waddell was asked.
"Great," he smiled, as he sat down. "Couldn't be any better."
The offer sheet was, of course, the focus of conversation.
"I'm actually surprised it wasn't more," Waddell quipped about the average annual value of $8.454 million. "We're just reviewing it. We haven't had time to really bring everybody in the inner circle in to talk about it."
Video: Don Waddell Press Conference
So, what's next?
The Hurricanes have seven days to either match the offer or walk away with the designated compensation of a first-, second- and third-round draft pick from Montreal.
All signs point toward the team matching the offer, bringing Aho under contract for the next five years.
"We look at Sebastian as our best player," Waddell said. "We certainly want to keep him long term."
The Hurricanes had been in touch with Aho's representation as recently as the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, when the two sides had "a great discussion," according to Waddell. It was a matter of when, not if, the two sides could reach an agreement. Now, it will be settled within the week.
"I know my summer just got better because I'm not going to spend all summer negotiating a contract now," Waddell said.
Though there may be little question about the Hurricanes' decision, it's not an urgent matter. They could opt to take this to the deadline, if for no other reason than to tie up potential funds the Canadiens might otherwise spend on available free agents.
"Maybe I don't want to help them right now," Waddell smiled.
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin would lead you to believe that Aho signing the offer sheet indicates his desire to play in a different city for a different team, though that's not exactly the case. Rather, Aho agreed to the terms of the contract - not the team - and, in a shrewd tactic, assumed some negotiating leverage when, as a restricted free agent, he otherwise didn't have much at all.
Ultimately, the AAV of the offer is in the neighborhood of what the Hurricanes and Aho likely would have settled at anyway. For the Canes, the disappointing aspect is the term of the offer; with a five-year contract, Aho could become an unrestricted free agent at age 26, so the Canes understandably were pursuing a longer term of eight years.
Now, we wait.
But there shouldn't be much suspense in what will happen next.