Canadiens send Jesperi Kotkaniemi to AHL

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 27: Look on Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) during the Washington Capitals versus the Montreal Canadiens game on January 27, 2020, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)

The Montreal Canadiens assigned forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League on Saturday, marking the first time the young forward has been sent to the AHL since joining the club.

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Kotkaniemi played 79 games for the Canadiens last season, scoring 11 goals and 34 points. In 36 appearances with the team this year, the 19-year-old has six goals and eight points while averaging 13 minutes per game.

It has been a turbulent sophomore year for the young Finn, who suffered a concussion in December and missed eight games while recovering. Things came to a head on Thursday, when Kotkaniemi was a healthy scratch versus the Buffalo Sabres.

A move to the AHL allows Kotkaniemi to increase his ice time and take on a bigger role at a lower level, while the Canadiens continue a season that has them fifth in the Atlantic Division with 53 points in 52 games, eight points back of the Florida Panthers for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

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