The New York Islanders signed 19-year-old Sebastian Aho, the Swedish one, to a max level ELC. What are the Islanders getting from this young defenseman anyways?
When the New York Islanders announced that they’d signed Sebastian Aho to a three-year entry level contract (ELC) the hockey world went: “Wait. What?”
Until they realized the Isle Sebastian Aho is Swedish, plays defense and was drafted just this year. Unlike the Carolina Hurricanes’ Sebastian Aho, who plays on the wing, is from Finland and was drafted in 2015.
With that all cleared up and both Sebastian Aho’s properly identified. The contract the Isles offered their Aho needs to be looked at.
Not because it’s got some weird wrinkles or interesting cap implications. It’s just the number itself that stands out. The Isles gave, and Aho signed, a deal that carries a $925,000 NHL salary.
For those familiar with the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, you’ll know that $925,000 is the max teams can give a player on their ELC. (See Article 9.3 (a)).
With the New York Islanders depth at defense, Aho won’t likely be earning that full $925,000 for a little while. But he’s also at the max $70,000 AHL salary. (See Article 9.4).
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Put that in perspective. Here are the ELC rates for some of the New York Islanders rookies drafted in similar positions, when they signed the ELC, and when they were drafted. Just to give a sense of their projected value leading up to their ELCs.
*All numbers taken from Cap Friendly.
The Islanders clearly see something in this kid. Devon Toews, drafted in the fourth round looks like the next line of defensemen and he got a similar deal. Loic Leduc is no longer with the Isles after the team didn’t opt to give him a qualifying offer.
Before making the jump to North America Aho played for Sweden’s Skelleftea AIK of the SHL. In 50 games this season he put up 30 points playing with men. That’s an outstanding achievement for a 21-year-old.
Aho went unranked in the NHL’s final Central Scouting rank for European skaters. It’s likely to do with his size He’s undersized at 5’10” 177lbs. Something that David Carlsson from The Hockey Writers brought up in 2016 after Aho had been looked over a third time at the draft table.
I thought the Martin St. Louis’s and Johnnny Gaudreau of the world have already answered the undersized questions? Talent knows no size.
By all accounts, this 21-year-old has all the tools to be a great defender. Speed, hockey IQ, he can move the puck and can make a great outlet pass. He just isn’t 6’0″ tall or more. I can’t wait to see what he can do in Bridgeport now that he’s finally got a shot at making an NHL squad.