Canadiens assign 19-year-old centre Kotkaniemi to AHL Rockets

Montreal Canadiens' Jesperi Kotkaniemi looks on prior to an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets in Montreal, Monday, January 6, 2020. Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press

The Montreal Canadiens assigned 2018 first-round draft pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the American Hockey League’s Laval Rockets on Saturday.

Kotkaniemi has six goals and two assists through 36 games this season for Montreal. He has 17 goals and 42 points in 115 career NHL games.

The 19-year-old centre from Finland was the Canadiens’ third overall selection two years ago.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Hope still alive for Montreal Canadiens after shading Buffalo Sabres 3-1

“Right now it’s about a kid who’s had a couple of injuries, hasn’t quite found his game, is probably losing confidence too,” said Canadiens coach Claude Julien. “So we want him to gain some confidence, we want him to find his game. So there’s nothing negative about that. I think it’s more positive and that’s what we need to see.”

Story continues below advertisement

Kotkaniemi has gone six games without reaching the scoresheet. His last goal came on Jan. 9 in a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

READ MORE: Call of the Wilde: Time is running out for the Montreal Canadiens. What’s going on here?

He missed eight games in December with a concussion.

“He’s got great potential and that hasn’t changed from day one,” Julien added. “I think he’s had a rough start … and I think as a young player you don’t want him losing his confidence, you want him to get his game back and I think the best way to do that is to go down there, play a lot and regain your confidence.”

Sponsored content