Is Janne Kuokkanen the next Sebastian Aho?

Is Janne Kuokkanen the next Sebastian Aho?

Monday wrapped up my series of articles on the Hurricanes prospect pool. There is much to be optimistic and excited about, but perhaps the player rising most rapidly right now is Janne Kuokkanen. At the risk of overhyping Kuokkanen, today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a look at the parallels between Kuokkanen’s development thus far and the path taken by fellow Fin Sebastian Aho.   Sebastian Aho With the 35th draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft, the Carolina Hurricanes selected Sebastian Aho. He was a bit off the board in terms of the mean draft rankings and also a bit of an unknown being a European prospect. In fact, the first step in the process of welcoming Aho into the Hurricanes prospect pool was clarifying that the Sebastian Aho in question was the forward from Finland and not the defenseman from Sweden. When the Hurricanes passed on a handful of bigger names, bigger players in terms of size and more well-known players from North America, there was a mini-uproar on Twitter from many of the June draft experts who had Aho nowhere to be found at least this early in the mock drafts. Aho first arrived in Raleigh for the 2015 Carolina Hurricanes prospect camp. He had a strong week but not really anything that screamed “super star…and very soon.” While some were still transitioning from whoever it was they thought Francis should have selected instead of Aho at #35, I rated his play at prospect camp top of the class in this article that was one of Canes and Coffee’s first on our July 29, 2015 official...
My Puck: A Story of the Carolina Hurricanes New Identity

My Puck: A Story of the Carolina Hurricanes New Identity

Matt’s editorial note: With the buzz and optimism around Canes hockey this summer, Cory could not help but return from his summer break way early. There are no guarantees in professional sports (Canes fans know that too well lately), but I hope you share his optimism and energy. I do.   A storm is coming. Can you feel it? Disclaimer: Author is 100% allowed to use cheesy clichés in his ridiculous excitement for the coming of hockey season The Carolina Hurricanes have had one of the best offseasons in recent memory this summer. The problem is, the offseason means nothing and we all are just bouncing in our seats in anticipation of seeing if the 2017-18 Canes can deliver on the ice. But seeing as that’s two months off, let’s just keep distracting ourselves with the bright situation, shall we?   Yay, Our First Real Post-Cup Identity! Let’s embrace the fact that, for the first time in years, the Carolina Hurricanes have an identity. For years, it seemed like the team had none, or at the very least, was something like “They Whom Are Beholden to Family Staal.” (There are worse identities.)  The truth as we’ve all come to painfully know, is that we coasted on our Cup win for about 8 years. As names like Brind’Amour, Whitney, Cole, and Williams disappeared, so did the identity. For years it was just sitting there hoping Eric Staal and Cam Ward could turn it back to their Cup days and bring us a taste of the playoffs. Then for several more years, it was the painful process of rebuild, a gigantic...
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,...