Carolina Hurricanes: ASG simply next step for Sebastian Aho

If you watch every Carolina Hurricanes game, there are often a few players who stand out. None, in my mind, stand out every night quite the way Sebastian Aho does.

As part of our NHL All-Star Game coverage, today’s focus is on the Carolina Hurricanes’ sole representative at the game, Sebastian Aho. I’m going to gush over him a little bit here – if that’s not your thing, turn back, you’ve been warned!

If I told you Sebastian Aho is currently on pace to hit 93 points, you wouldn’t think twice about it – if you’re like me, at least. There’s a reason for that: he’s our star player, and you expect star-caliber numbers from him. There’s a reason he’s the first forward to represent the Hurricanes at the NHL All-Star game since the 2011 All-Star game in Raleigh.

Sebastian Aho plays his heart out for the Carolina Hurricanes every single night. He makes mistakes, for sure, but he’s only in his third NHL season. It’s hard to describe what he brings, especially as Hurricanes fans have not been adjusted to it as of late, but with Sebastian Aho on the ice, there is always a chance. He brings a dynamic to the team that they’ve not had in many years.

This is also still his first complete season playing the center position full-time. How many young players could learn a new position, take on all the different characteristics of it, then put up a career year? He is still learning too; in overtime on Tuesday in Calgary, Aho clearly shifted incorrectly and Calgary’s Mikael Backlund had no problem netting the winner. Aho was visibly upset in the locker room after the game. However, it’s difficult to be the least bit upset at Aho about that game, as he scored the tying goal to take the game to OT in the first place.

I like what Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour said about Aho’s competitiveness after that Calgary game:

“That’s what makes him a special player, for me…he hates to lose and will do anything he can to win.”

That’s what makes an All-Star – a player who wants to lead the team. Is there any doubt that Aho is a leader on the ice? I’m not here to make the case for Aho being the Captain of the team, I am merely stating that he leads the way night after night as he and his team mates try to end the team’s long playoff drought.

Every teammate has nothing but great things to say about Sebastian Aho. Justin Williams, whose locker conveniently neighbors Aho, has certainly played with incredible talent during the course of his long career. When talking with Chip Alexander of the News & Observer about Aho, Williams says it’s important that a player clearly wants to be great:

“He strives to be great, right?” Williams said. “That’s what you want. That’s what the team wants to see. You don’t want to see a guy happy with being a good player. You want them to be great. And after they’re great you want them to be a star.”

When The Athletic’s Sara Civian asked Michael Ferland earlier this season about Aho, he compared him to his former teammate Johnny Gaudreau, which is obviously very high praise:

“It’s never enough for those guys…you’ll get some scoring chances, then the next shift Fishy is yelling down your throat ‘Get the puck in, let’s go, let’s keep it going.’ It’s what makes them special.”

What more could Carolina Hurricanes fans possibly want from a player representing the team at the NHL All-Star game? Sebastian Aho is everything and more for this franchise right now. Aside from Justin Williams – Mr Game 7 – he’s arguably the most well-known player on this team throughout the league, and it’s only a matter of time before the mainstream hockey media starts to pick up on how special he is, and the value he has to the Carolina Hurricanes both on and off the ice.

Seabass, the magical hockey elf, whatever you call him, we need to all remember he’s special. Think about how much better things are overall since Aho joined the Carolina Hurricanes, and how much things are improving as he grows each year. Canes fans, if you don’t already, appreciate this player. He’s one in a million and we should all be very proud to have him represent us in San Jose.

Please watch the NHL All-Star Game, especially if you’re in the Hurricanes region. Show that there’s support for hockey in North Carolina and help encourage them to give the Canes more games on Wednesday Night Hockey. The NHL All-Star Skills Competition is Friday, January 25th at 9 PM EST on NBCSN and the NHL All-Star Game is Saturday, January 26th at 8 PM EST on NBC. Make sure you tune in!