Kotkaniemi underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday. Kotkaniemi underwent this procedure to address a chronic, minor injury that he played through during the 2018-19 campaign. The Finnish forward's offseason training schedule isn't expected to be impacted by his recovery from the surgery, so he should be back to 100 percent well before next year's training camp gets underway. The third overall pick from the 2018 draft had a solid rookie campaign, notching 11 goals and 34 points in 79 appearances, and should be considered an attractive secondary option with starter upside heading into next year's fantasy drafts.
Kotkaniemi has been moved to wing and will skate on the fourth line Tuesday against Tampa Bay, Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette reports. Kotkaniemi, who was benched for Montreal's previous game, returns in a new role as Jordan Weal will take his usual spot as the third-line center. The 18-year-old Kotkaniemi played well initially, but management sees a degradation in his performance. "He had a really good start and then for him this is a lot of hockey for an 18-year-old," said general manager Marc Bergevin. "At some point, when his play or his confidence starts to get to a point where he's not performing and he's hurting himself and the team, that's when you pull back a bit and that's what Claude (Julien) has done and he's got my support on that." If there's any advantage, the move to the wing could allow coach Claude Julien to give Kotkaniemi more playing time since he can put the rookie out there on defensive-zone faceoff situations with veteran Nate Thompson taking draws.
Kotkaniemi was a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against the Jets, Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette reports. Coach Claude Julien cited fatigue as the reason for benching Kotkaniemi, who has clearly lost the confidence of his coach. The rookie center is averaging nearly 14 minutes of ice time per game this season but just 11:47 TOI over the last seven games, including two contests under 10 minutes. Jordan Weal took his spot on the third line Saturday.
Kotkaniemi was benched for most of the third period and had a season-low 7:56 time on ice in Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks, Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette reports. During his post-game press conference, coach Claude Julien mentioned Kotkaniemi letting his player go on a couple of shifts that led to Chicago scoring chances. The 18-year-old has been mostly good through the first three quarters of the season, but Julien has soured recently, including making him a healthy scratch for the first two games of the recent California trip.
Kotkaniemi (rest) had three hits and two shots in 15:03 as the Canadiens took an 8-2 loss to the Ducks on Friday. Kotkaniemi was rested in the first two games of the Canadiens' California trip, and he was unable to make much of an impact in a lopsided loss to close out the trek. He has some appeal in deeper leagues with 32 points in 67 games, and may be a target for fantasy owners in dynasty formats as a first-round pick from the 2018 draft.
Last 7 Games
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