Jesрerі Kotkаnіemі on Hіs Seаson, Offseаson Exрeсtаtіons аnd Pһysісаlіty

The 23-year-old center’s season was riddled with poor luck and inconsistency.

The Carolina Hurricanes made a big bet on Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

After only one year in the system, they extended him on an eight-year deal, albeit at a relatively low AAV.

He looked to be turning a corner at the tail end of last season, being one of the team’s most consistent producers and that trend looked to have continued into the start of this year.

But very quickly, Kotkaniemi’s production fell off a cliff.

Carolina Hurricanes finalize eight-year extension with Jesperi Kotkaniemi,  21, expect forward 'to continue to grow his game' - ESPN

He not only struggled to produce, but saw his role greatly diminished as the season went on.

Now, a lot of question marks have risen about if he can still be the type of player the team need.

The Canes held their second round of exit interviews on Sunday following the conclusion of their 2023-24 season which ended after losing in six games to the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs.

Here’s what Kotkaniemi had to say:

On his season: I think it was just pretty shitty overall. A tough year for me. Got a good start to the year. I think we were kind of looking at how to play this year. Early on we were struggling a little bit as a team. So I think we found a way and you know, my ice time got a little smaller there and when you’re winning, you don’t really change much. So that’s just the reality in this sport. Just need to do the best you can with that ice time. Definitely I could have been a lot better this year. Just try to forget this year now and focus on the next one.

On the expectations for the offseason: Just the same as usual. Try to work hard and get a little stronger and come back next year and be ready to go so the same thing doesn’t happen again next year.

On if he thinks he needs to have an increased level of physicality: I think that just comes with the game. I think the postseason is always a little different. You want to bring more out of the physical part of the game. But I think if you run around 82 games, you’re going to be pretty tired when the playoffs come so I need to be smarter with that too. Maybe I’ll try to play a little more hockey in the regular season and then maybe just run around a little more in the postseason.

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