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Get to Know Sebastian Aho
Date of Birth: July 26, 1997
Place of Birth: Rauma, Finland
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 175 lbs
Position: Left Wing
Team: Karpat (Liiga)
Deja vu? No there are in fact two unrelated Sebastian Aho’s in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Yesterday we took a look at Swedish defenseman Sebastian Aho and today we examine the Finnish forward by the same name. This draft is filled with responsible, defensively talented Swedish and Finnish forwards, and Sebastian Aho is no exception. Playing with Ässät and Kärpät in Finland’s Liiga, Aho registered 4 goals and 13 points in his first 30 games in Finland’s top league. At the Finnish junior level, Aho was a dominant point per game forward.
What Scouts See
Aho is a relentless and determined workhorse who plays an aggressive game on the penalty kill and shows well on and off the puck. Aho’s defensive game and overall awareness is remarkable. He makes smart plays to get the puck out, will offer support down low in his own end, and is active in trying to separate the puck from the man [. . .] Makes excellent short-range passes as he helps to pull defenders in close and open up some space to get a shot off.
Aho’s been a very impressive prospect for a number of years, playing far ahead of his age group, and being dominant at the junior level. He’s a very quick skater who sets up plays at a high level. He’s got some dazzle to his game, and while he can try to do too much at times, he makes a lot of offensive plays. He’s somewhat small, and not the thickest, which is his obvious area of concern. But I think that off the puck, he’s decent and has at times shown defensive value.
If you draft Aho, be sure to specify which Sebastian Aho you are drafting, you want the Finnish player not the Swedish defender of the same name (no relation). Aho spent the past season playing in the Finnish mens league and is under contract for one more season, but may be NHL ready after that and cross the pond. Aho is a playmaker with good offensive upside and vision who can plays a high energy game with speed and finesse. The knock on him is he may not translate in North American pro hockey.
There are definite questions about Aho’s high end offensive abilities and whether his offensive game will translate to smaller and faster North American rinks. That said, Aho’s defensive talents at even strength and on the penalty kill make him an intriguing player and could give him a future in the NHL as a bottom six penalty killing specialist.
Expected Draft Position
There’s an enormous range of opinions on Sebastian Aho’s value. Corey Pronman ranks the Finnish winger as the 28th best available prospect, Craig Button as the 50th,Bob McKenzie calls him an honorable mention on his top 75 list, and Future Considerations ranked him 110th in their draft guide. That’s all to say that Aho is one of the bigger wildcards in the top half of the draft. While it’s highly unlikely that Aho is selected in the first round, these rankings suggest that he could find an NHL home anywhere between the 2nd and 5th rounds.
How Prospect Fits in Avalanche Organization
The loss of Paul Stastny and the uncertain future of Ryan O’Reilly have put the Avalanche in an uncertain position when it comes to defensive forwards and penalty killers. Unfortunately for the team, there is also little help in that department coming up through the system. If the Avalanche are confident that Aho’s offensive game will continue to grow and adapt at the NHL level, he may be worth taking a chance on in the 3rd round. Otherwise his upside may just be too limited for the Avalanche’s valuable 40th overall selection.