#20 / Center
Height: 6’0” | Weight: 176 | Born: July 26, 1997
Birthplace: Rauma, FIN | Acquired: Drafted 35th, 2015 (Carolina)
Assets: His playmaking stands out on the ice. Has plenty of offensive acumen and good skating ability. Plays with energy and is usually rather noticeable when on the ice. Owns a lot of flair, but is also productive.
Flaws: Lacks ideal size for the National Hockey League game, so he must prove he can handle playing his offensive style in smaller ice surfaces in North America. Needs some work defensively.
Career Potential: Skilled, talented playmaker with good upside.
Why You Should Know Who He Is: Aho may have a claim to the title of “Best Player You Really Don’t Know Much About”... and there are two of him. Unfortunately, the Caps will have to face The Good Sebastian Aho (the Carolina center) for the next four-to-seven games, and not The Not-Nearly-As-Good Sebastian Aho (the defenseman in the Isles’ organiziation). The Hurricanes’ Aho just wrapped up his third NHL season, and has increased his goal, assist and plus-minus totals each year, culminating in 2018-19’s impressive 30-53-83 +25 line (only 14 players, League-wide, totaled at least 30 goals and 50 assists this season, and the list of names is rather impressive). He also potted four shorthanded goals during the season (including one against the Caps in December), and is one of the top puck-possession players in the League. Put another way...
Aho had three goals and three assists in four games against the Caps this year, and has 17 points in a dozen career games against Washington, so chances are you’re already pretty familiar with him, but this is one of those guys whose production is absolutely critical to his team’s success (he had 58 points in 46 Carolina wins this year, 14 points in 29 losses) - as Aho goes, so go the ‘Canes.
How the Caps Can Stop Him: Aho’s speed and skill make all of the usual focal points particularly critical - match-ups, gap control, discipline and so on will all be key in limiting the burgeoning superstar’s effectiveness. Physicality? Sure, why not - the Caps will just need to be sure not to take unnecessary penalties or to get caught out of position chasing big hits along the way. But any way you slice it, Braden Holtby and the Caps will have their work cut out for them when this Sebastian Aho is on the ice.