Carolina Hurricanes: Sebastian Aho’s 2019-20 Season Outlook

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 21: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes adjusts his helmet during an NHL game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 21, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 21: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes adjusts his helmet during an NHL game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 21, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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At just 22 years of age, Sebastian Aho is already an elite player for the Carolina Hurricanes. Entering his fourth season in the NHL, what kind of production can we expect to see next season?

Fresh off signing a new five year contract extension keeping him in Raleigh through the 2023-24 season, Sebastian Aho will look to build off a career year. A year which saw a 21 year old Aho post 83 points (30 goals and 53 assists), all while being +25. Being another year older, stronger, and fresh off his first experience with the Stanley Cup Playoffs, look for Aho to take another step forward in 2019-20.

Selected as the Carolina Hurricanes’ 2019 NHL All Star, the young Finnish Star was drafted 35th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. In his rookie year, 2016-17, Aho appeared in all 82 regular season games, scoring 24 goals while adding 25 assists for 49 points. Numbers that resulted in an 8th place finish in Calder voting.

Heading into his sophomore season, where it is common for young players to take a step back in terms of total production, Aho set then-career highs in goals (29), assists (36), and points (65), while being +4 in three fewer games.  In these first two seasons, Sebastian spent most of his time on the wing for current Calgary head coach, Bill Peters.

When Rod Brind’Amour took over the reigns as head coach for the Carolina Hurricanes, Aho transitioned to the role of top line center full time.  Now entering his fourth season in the NHL, it appears as if the Hurricanes are finally in a position where they are no longer asking if they have a true number one center. Instead they should be wondering what’s next for their young All Star.

Based on his previous three seasons, one can expect Sebastian to win just a tad under 50% of his faceoffs, with his career average being 48.2%. With the continued help from Brind’amour, his numbers should go up slightly to around 49% or so, making it a career high. Fans should also expect to see around 26 penalty minutes, equivalent to 13 minors, over the 82 game season, something that has been fairly constant in Aho’s young career thus far.

Sebastian has seen an increase in time on ice during his tenure with the Carolina Hurricanes; he averaged 16:47 in year one, 17:55 in year two, and 20:09 last season. It is rather likely that he will see around 20 minutes per game next season, especially since he plays in all situations.

On the power play, Aho saw a decline in goals from eight in 2017-18 to three in 2018-19. Although this may seem like a step backwards, he increased his powerplay assist total from eight in 2017-18 to 21 in 2018-19. With his career shooting percentage of 12.6, his powerplay goal numbers will likely rise closer to his sophomore season numbers, while maintaining a similar number of assists.

Last season, Aho scored four short handed goals, cementing a role alongside Teuvo Teravainen as a reliable duo on the penalty kill, something to keep an eye on next season. In the Playoffs, Sebastian appeared in 15 games, scoring five times while adding seven assists for 12 points.

Finishing 10th in the Hart Trophy race and 12th on the Selke ballot, it is safe to assume that Aho will receive a lot of hardware over his career. With 83 career goals we should see him hit the 100 goal mark this upcoming season. With 197 points in 242 games, he should also hit the 200 career point milestone fairly early on.

With all things considered, a year with 30-35 goals and 55-60 assists, for 85-95 points and solid play in the defensive zone should be expected from Sebastian Aho. With the added depth upfront this offseason, Aho’s numbers on the power play should see a slight rise as well.  All in all, Aho is just one of the NHL’s young a rising stars and should be considered  a 2015 draft steal.

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How many points do you think Aho will score next season?