Sebastian Aho: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

Sebastian Aho: 2016-17 Carolina Hurricanes report card

For anyone catching up, a menu of previous player (and also coaching and GM) report cards can be found at the bottom of the article. Sebastian Aho’s starting point for the 2016-17 season Sebastian Aho entered the 2016-17 season with high expectations based on his whirlwind 2015-16 season. First Aho starred on a line with 2016 NHL lottery picks Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi for Team Finland at the 2016 World Junior Championships. The line was an offensive juggernaut and led Finland to a gold medal. Aho later stepped up and held his own playing against NHLers in the world championships in the spring. In between, he had a solid season playing professionally in Finland. By the time summer came, Aho had made a strong claim to be ready for the NHL in 2016-17 despite having yet to play a professional game in North America. Aho played on Finland’s team for the World Cup, arrived in Raleigh in time for about a week of training camp and then quickly launched into his NHL career. At the same time, he was both a rising star yet completely unproven.   Sebastian Aho’s 2016-17 season with the Carolina Hurricanes Even before training camp started, Coach Bill Peters settled on a line, at least to start, that paired Sebastian Aho with countryman Teuvo Teravainen and Elias Lindholm. The young line would start the season as the Hurricanes’ third line behind Skinner/Rask Stempniak and Jordan Staal’s line that featured a mix of wings. Sebastian Aho settled in fairly quickly and looking reasonably comfortable with the NHL game right out of the gate. Despite being...
Hurricanes In-Depth: Sebastian Aho Serving Notice to the NHL

Hurricanes In-Depth: Sebastian Aho Serving Notice to the NHL

It’s funny that when you type in “Sebastian Aho” in Google, the Wikipedia page still shows the picture of the ‘other’ Sebastian Aho. Yes, there are actually two of them. The other Aho, a Swede, is also a diminuative hockey player, a fast-skating offensive defensemen who was never drafted. But only one Aho is driving the Carolina Hurricanes offense right now, and setting himself up as one of the best non-1st round picks in recent memory. This one hails from Finland. Unless you’re committed to living under a rock until the Hurricanes return to playoff contention (which is still perfectly understandable) you already know a lot about Li’l Sebastian “Seabass” Aho. His teammates certainly do. In a recent Michael Smith article, Elias Lindholm said, “We all know how skilled he is. It’s fun to watch him out there.” He’s received similar compliments of late from the likes of Jordan Staal, and the guy that drafted him, Ron Francis. Even around the league, he’s starting to gain notice. That same Michael Smith article quoted Bill Peters as saying, “There’s a couple of times when he’s been leaving the ice and skating by guys and you can see they’re looking at the number and the name, saying ‘Who is this kid?’” That kid is Sebastian Aho, and he’s serving notice that Raleigh might have another star on its hands. In an NHL loaded with quality rookies, Aho sits a modest 6th among first-year skaters with 32 points, scoring a 3rd best 17 goals. His recent spurt has also seen him pass Victor Rask for 2nd on the Hurricanes in points, despite seeing nearly two minutes less...
Was a watershed game for Sebastian Aho lost in the headlines on Sunday night?

Was a watershed game for Sebastian Aho lost in the headlines on Sunday night?

On Sunday night in Raleigh, the Hurricanes won an important game against the Boston Bruins by a score of 4-3 in overtime in a back and forth game. The deserving first star of the game was Sebastian Aho who scored 2 goals in the win. The 2 goals including a game-winner were obviously a good night for Aho, but as I said on Twitter following the game, I think there is a much bigger story on Aho from Sunday’s game.   A rapid rise before the NHL Aho arrived in Raleigh with high hopes this summer after a phenomenal 2015-16 season that saw him play well in the Finnish Elite League and arguably even better centering a top line with Patrik Laine and Magnus Puljujarvi for Finland’s world junior team that won the championship. He had significantly outplayed his early second round selection in the 2015 NHL draft, was all but assured an NHL roster spot for 2016-17 with the Carolina Hurricanes and came with high hopes that he would become a great NHL player. Some patience was in order with Aho as a 19-year old rookie, but the projections were incredibly good.   A good start getting his feet wet at the NHL level in first half of 2016-17 season To no one’s surprise, Aho made the opening day Hurricanes roster for the 2016-17 season and was slotted to play on a third line with countryman Teuvo Teravainen and another young player in Elias Lindholm. After a couple big games in preseason, the trio actually started slowly in the regular season. There were glimpses of the heady play,...
Thoughts on Sebastian Aho

Thoughts on Sebastian Aho

Now quickly approaching the halfway point of Sebastian Aho’s rookie season, here are a few random thoughts based on watching him for 31 games. His office By far, his favorite place to operate is entering the offensive zone on the right side with enough speed that he can either continue to carry wide or more likely pull up and look for a pasing lane to the middle. I do not have time to do a formal tally, but a good number of his best playmaking efforts have come from exactly that position on the ice including his recent assist on a Justin Faulk goal and also 1 that saw him find Teuvo Tervainen who then found Noah Hanifin. Smarts as advertised I wrote about it in more detail in the game recap from Friday, but from “his office” and also other places, he has been exactly as advertised in terms of making heady plays. He has the knack for making plays to move defenders where he needs them to be to open up passing lanes. I think that ability to create passing lanes is the single biggest skill that separates elite playmakers from reasonably skilled run of the mill offensive players who collect assists at an average or slightly above average rate. Need to spend more time where goals happen He could take a lesson from Jeff Skinner in this regard. To boost his goal scoring, Aho will need to make a concerted effort to spend more time with and without the puck where goals happen (basically inside the face-off circles). Especially with the puck on his stick, e...
World Cup of Hockey Update: Aho creating chances, USA missing Faulk

World Cup of Hockey Update: Aho creating chances, USA missing Faulk

The World Cup of Hockey is a strange place of quality hockey that we both do and do not want. Case in point, I blame the entirety USA’s shocking 3-0 opening loss to Europe solely on the management not selecting Justin Faulk, when, in truth, I’m very glad he’s not playing and risking injury over a tournament that doesn’t matter. Also I really don’t care about country loyalty, because this tournament is ALL about Team North America. First things first though. Following our Finnish Canes is Frustrating First of all, Team Finland might be the worst team in the tournament. North America slaughtered them 4-0, and it was painful to watch. The Finns’ defense is awful. They also refuse to give ice time to Teuvo Teravainen, and that’s just annoying. On the plus side, our boy Sebastian Aho is seeing increasing amounts of ice time, logging over 15 minutes of action. He started out strong, drawing a penalty on Shane Gostisbehere on his first shift, and continued to show some impressive passing skills when he had the puck. The problem was, he rarely had it. Team North America was a puck possession juggernaut, so Aho and the rest of the Finns spent most of the game chasing McDavid, MacKinnon and Co. around. To sum up Aho, here’s a Good, a Bad and an Ugly/Funny Good: Aho continues to show an excellent motor, and play creating abilities. He set up a couple of nice chances for teammates that weren’t finished, and his puck movement skills are absolutely excellent. He also doesn’t play scared at all, mixing it up on corner...