Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho was having a career year
Robbed of 40, had the NHL been able to play out the remainder of the regular season would Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho have hit the 50 goal plateau?
First off I am going to preface this by saying that this is all just pure speculation as there is no real way to accurately guess how the rest of the regular season would have played out but, barring injuries however, I am 100% confident when I say that Sebastian Aho would have had his first 40 goal campaign and the first for a Carolina Hurricane since 08-09.
To hit 40 would have been a massive achievement. Since the move to the Carolinas the organization has only had someone score 40 three times, Eric Staal twice (05-06 and 08-09) and Jeff O’Neill once (00-01).
To accomplish this feat Aho would have just needed to find the back of the net twice in the remaining 14 games. With a six game goal streak this season, eight multiple goal games on the year, and a two goal outing in the final game before the break in play, this was all but guaranteed to happen.
With 38 goals in 68 games he was only pace to hit 46, which would have been a new franchise record (since relocation). While Staal currently holds the record for single season goal total in a Canes sweater with 45, no one has ever scored 50 in a Carolina Hurricanes uniform.
Although this is the case, the franchise as a whole isn’t without a 50+ goal scorer. Back in the Hartford Whaler days, Blaine Stoughton eclipsed the 50 goal mark twice, first in the 79-80 season (56) and then again in 81-82 (52).
The fact that he’s hovering near the 40 and 50 goal milestone is pretty remarkable when you consider his slow start. After only scoring five times in the Hurricanes first 15 games, he found the back of the net 33 times over the final 53 games, a pace that would have seen him hit 51 on the year.
Because of this slower start however, he would have needed to score 12 times in the final 14 games to reach 50 goal mark. To produce at a .85 goals per game pace Sebastian would have to have had gone on another lengthy goal scoring streak.
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Scoring seven in six games in late January/early February, 50 was certainly not out of the realm of possibility but wasn’t all that likely. Even with that in mind, I have gone ahead and looked at a few different scenarios and circumstances to attempt to get a solid idea of what realistically could of been for Sebastian Aho and his already career high season.
Looking at the matchups for the remaining 14 games on the schedule, the Canes were set to play Pittsburgh three times, New Jersey, Buffalo and Boston twice and St. Louis, Ottawa, Toronto, Columbus and New York (Islanders) all once apiece.
Historically, in the regular season, Aho has been dynamite versus the Bruins, with eight goals in ten games, but hasn’t had the much success against the Maple Leafs, one goal in eleven games, or Islanders, two goals in sixteen games.
Just based on his current career goals per game average against these nine teams, Sebastian would have likely finished with approximately 5.31 goals over the final handful of games, which would have had him finish the year with 43.
While a 43 goal season is an accomplishment in itself, finishing 5.31 goals in the final 14 games only averages to a .379 goals per game pace, well short of the .558 GPG he was producing at before the season abruptly ended. If you make a projection somewhere between this estimated average and his regular season’s pace, you’d end up with approximately 45 goals, tying Staal’s record.
Now if you look at his career goal totals broken down by home and road accords, the projection is not much different. With 64 career goals in 155 games at home, a .412 goals per game pace, the projections show him finding the back of the net 3.29 times in the remaining eight contest at PNC Arena.
On the road he has 57 career goals in 155 games, a .367 pace. With six road games left on the schedule, approximately 2.2 goals would have been expected. When you add these two numbers together it translates to roughly 5.49 goals, which also ends up giving him 43 on the year.
Projecting his goal totals based on his final 14 games in each of his three previous seasons in the NHL you’d also end up with 43 goals. Scoring 5 in both the 18-19 and 17-18 seasons and 4 in 16-17, this projection seems to continue to be the most realistic and probable outcome.
Like I said before this is all just pure speculation but somewhere in the mid 40s is an accurate estimate of what Aho would have scored. To see him be robbed of a 40 goal campaign is disappointing but I’m sure he’ll reach the milestone several times in his career, possibly as soon as next season.
Question for CC readers: How many goals do you think Sebastian Aho would have finished a full 82 game regular season with?