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Jesperi Kotkaniemi not guaranteed to play tonight against the Canadiens
Credit: Capture d'écran / Screenshot
Jesperi Kotkaniemi is having a very difficult season in Carolina. After scoring 10 points in 10 games in October, he has slowed down considerably, scoring 25 points in 74 games this season.

If you do the math, he has 15 points in his last 64 games. Not exactly the performance you’d expect from a player earning $4.82 million a year until 2030.

And in addition to the points, his playing time has also been plummeting since the start of the season. In fact, since the beginning of February, he’s been averaging just ten minutes on the ice per game, and we’re seeing him on the fourth line.

Now, as the Hurricanes take on the Habs tonight, there’s a world out there in which KK won’t even be in the lineup, as his place no longer seems secure.

Yesterday, we saw him rotate on the fourth line with Stefan Noesen, Jack Drury and Jesper Fast. One of these players will have to be cut, given that the top-9 is solid.

So far this season, Kotkaniemi has played every game for his team. You’d think a game against his old team would give him a bit of gas, but on the other hand, leaving him out of a game he probably wants to play would be a strong message from Rod Brind’Amour.

The Hurricanes don’t have time to experiment anymore: if you don’t perform, you’ll be tased, simple as that.

The additions of Jake Guentzel and Evgeny Kuznetsov(who produce offensively) at the trade deadline have created congestion up front, and Kotkaniemi’s ten minutes a game aren’t exactly essential to the lineup anymore.

Now, more than ever, we wonder if his future lies in Carolina… especially with the option of a contract buyout that won’t penalize the Hurricanes too much.

In gusto

– Happy Birthday Slaf!

– The race is still hotly contested.

– He could (and should) reach the 100 assists mark this season.

– A fight to the finish among the top three.

– Patrick Roy doesn’t want to talk about discipline in press conferences… because it has the opposite effect on his club.

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