Aho Looking To Make A Name For Himself
By Cory Wright, New York Islanders
When the New York Islanders drafted Sebastian Aho in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Draft, there were more than a few people who asked this question:
"Sebastian Aho? Doesn't he play for Carolina?"
Aho gets that a lot, but such is life when you share the same name of a blossoming 19-year-old forward.
"I've had to sign a lot of his pictures during the years," Aho said at Islanders Mini Camp. "Even my dad's friends asked if I became Finnish and started playing in the Finnish league a couple of years ago. It's pretty funny."
The Islanders' Aho is a 21-year-old defenseman who played in Skellefta of the Swedish Hockey League and signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders on Wednesday (July 5). He's an offensively minded blue-liner and had a career-high 30 points (10G, 20A) in 50 games for his hometown team last season. That was the step forward the Islanders wanted to see, and after keeping an eye on him for a few years, they selected him in the fifth round.
"This year he had a breakthrough season in the SHL, which is a very good pro league," said Islanders Head Amateur Scout Vellu Kautonen at the draft. "He's very skilled with the puck, very mobile. To me, he's a modern-style NHL defenseman. Smaller guy, but because of his skating and ability, he can play."
Aho echoed Kautonen's assessment. He said he likes to jump up in the play and feed the puck to his forwards. He was also grateful to get drafted by the Islanders, which he said was a bit of a surprise after going undrafted until he was 21. Aho was in Sweden watching a movie, rather than rounds 2-7, when he got the call. He was at Islanders Mini Camp only a few days later.
"It's been a fun week," Aho said at camp. "I haven't been on the ice since we were eliminated from the Swedish league. It was odd in the beginning, but as the week progressed it felt better and better. The coaches were great, they helped me and talked to me a lot."
It must have been a good introduction, as he signed his ELC less than a week after camp ended. He is now poised to make the jump to North America, the first step in taking back a piece of the Aho name.